I have spent the last couple of days running a suicide intervention course, and in the process of teaching, being reminded of both the successes and failures of my own past. The fact is we all know people who are struggling, not all of them get caught up in the river of suicide, but often what they need to know is who they are and that someone cares. Pondering this I was reminded of a story…
There once was a holy man who was having a conversation with the Lord, and said “Lord can you show me what heaven and hell are like?”
The Lord then led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and looked in. He saw that in the middle of the room was a large round table, in the middle of which was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made his mouth water. Yet the people sitting around the table were all very thin and sickly, and appeared to be starving to death! Then he noticed that each of those around the table were holding spoons with very long handles strapped to their arms. These spoons were long enough to reach the pot of stew in the middle, but because they were longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back to their mouths.
The holy man shuddered at the sight of such misery and suffering. The Lord then told him “You have seen hell.”
The Lord then led him through the next door, which was exactly the same as the first, with those in this room having the same long spoons. Yet in this room the people were well fed and nourished, laughing, talking and enjoying themselves. The holy man could not understand why? “It is simple” said the Lord. “It requires just one skill. The people in this room have learned to feed each other, while those in the other room were greedy and only ever thought of themselves!”
It seems to me that in our very individualistic society it is all too easy to just look after ourselves, but the end result of that attitude is in the end destructive. RAAF Wagga can be either heaven or hell for you, depending on whether you have learnt that one skill. What are you doing to feed, support and encourage those around you this week? Don’t wait till either they or you are suicidal!
Chaplain Ian S Whitley