He stood on the edge of the mountain. A old man by some standards and his own at 64. He had lived his life and if you asked him the result, he would say, I am just tired. I would say a good many of his fellow citizens felt the same way.
He had raised a family of three kids, worked a full time job, and had even served as a city councilman as he pastored a small church. He had given his life not in a pursuit for money but serving others.
He had lived through so many battles and stood strong, he felt like he had been to war in his own country.
While doing an elected job, both as a city leader and as pastor, because in his faith the local church votes on who they want to lead the church. In government or the church the battles were about the same.
He watched the river below him, as it twisted and turned through the bluffs, just as life all too often does. Gentle places like when you fall in love and get married. Over rough boulders like when your kids hit the age they think they no longer think they need to obey you. Then water falls with steep currents that you would be lucky to survive, like when your wife says I am tired of having a husband and the rules that go with it.
He could not help but recall the time one of the families he counted on most caused a big scene and left the church. The small church didn't have much money and had just spent what they had paying the families husband, a roofer, to put on a new roof. Then a big storm hit, and when he heard a loud boom outside he found the church air conditioner had been hit by lighting.
He had called a service company that verified his thinking, then the insurance company that also agreed. You would think folks were going to say, Thank the Lord. All did but this family. When he announced the findings and it was going to be replaced. They rose up and called him a liar. They accused him of ripping off the company. The end result him losing what he thought was friends and the church a family.
Then there was the lady who had a granddaughter in bad straights. He had taken money from his own needs to help her, as well as help from the church. But when grandma got mad because he wouldn't throw a lady out of the church she was mad at. She tired to vote him out of the job. The end result eventually she left too.
Then there was that time his wife was getting on to one of the kids. And one of the ladies told her she shouldn't raise her voice to the kids. Well that was a mistake, because she raised her voice and told the lady to mind her own business. That week he got a visit from a small group that demanded he either make her undergo mental health or resign or be fired.
Well he told them in no uncertain terms, they were crossing many lines, none of which were Christian. He wasn't going to resign and he was not making her get mental health for yelling at the kid or the lady. When taking a vote didn't get him fired, they took it to the body that oversees ministers. When they found him innocent of any wrong, the end result they left too.
In a place that he taught to love and do good and forgiveness. He learned it went in one ear and out the other. The most hateful, bitter and angry people he had ever seen went to church every Sunday. They were never happy about anything and quick to gossip and condemn every one else. He didn't even want to think about when he had a black friend come to church and worse allowed him to sing a special song.
He was called to stop by the seniors members houses and told he acted in an offensive manner. After all white folks have their church's and black folks have theirs. When he told them that was not only unchristian and was a ungodly way to think. Yep the old vote again. Yet he survived, and went on teaching Jesus and that meant love.
Then if that wasn't bad enough, there was when he took the job for the city. When you made part of the people happy, the other parts either wanted you dead or that group that didn't care.
When the flood hit and the sewer wasn't able to handle it and he voted for a bond issue to replace the lines. You would of thought it was a tax increase or costing people funds out the pocket. Bonds is a loan and paid back but the people of the city felt none of that cost. Yet the board members were each threatened they were going to be killed.
The people wanted roads fixed and new businesses until they had them. Then it was to much traffic and new stop signs.
He had learned at least one thing, you do what is right and you don't have to justify it, yet you will suffer for it. People are like a hungry pack of wolfs always ready to find you as fresh meat to devour.
He had found family was just as bad, if not worse. They support you when there is something in it for them. Always ready to judge you and the loudest voice to condemn you. Yet always expect that he was supposed to smile and pat them on the back even when they did bad things. Open up his wallet and give when one was in need. Loved to see him fall, and when his wife left, made him the lowest of low life's.
Now he took a step closer to the edge. He wished he was a person that did not speak the truth and speak out about wrong. He was always being blasted by everyone that did not like facing truth. Yet he felt it was his duty to speak out against wrong. He would get no medals, or not any coins in his pocket, it was just his one thing he could do.
Maybe for a moment jumping off, sailing through the air, and peace at last, crossed his mind. Yet he knew he couldn't and wouldn't and would just keep going on. Maybe that was all life is, just going on, till time stopped.
His body was worn out, two bad back disks, falling off two roofs and down a well left their mark. A bad heart, that was gift from his family blood line. Breathing issues called COPD from to many years breathing things like refrigerants.
He used to drive down roads and him and his wife would talk about the dream of retiring at 62, that was the laws then, and sitting on the porch watching the flowers grow. Now he had to wait till 66 and lived in an apartment with no flowers to watch grow. This is life, a bank account empty, saving burnt up between each work project, and always somebody needing help. Yet he was mostly happy, tired but happy.
He liked who he is. He felt he had run the course trying to do good and looked at his kids and thinking they were not selfish. He liked talking to people, he enjoyed a good burger and people laughing. So the body might ache but his heart was mostly happy.
He turned to head back to his car, thankful for the beauty of this spot. When the earth started to move under his feet. He leap forward, falling on his face. The sound of the stones falling behind him. As he stood up he realized it was our nature to want to live.
As he drove toward home, he sung a old song and knew he would go on each day until he couldn't and smile, and laugh, and hide the pain and loneliness that so often he felt. After all people don't really want to know or care. They have their own roads to travel, and maybe he would be there to help a few yet.