The fight for the lives of people created in the image of God

The fight for the lives of people created in the image of God

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. – Mother Theresa

The moment one start to lose the significance of what we are doing, the moment one losses perspective on the importance of the struggle we find ourselves in, at that moment we are the most vulnerable facing the very threats, each and every individual faces, struggling with addiction.

What we do, though not always visible and even though on so many different levels, is no different from the firemen or paramedics and policemen saving so many lives every day. And like them, we cannot save every life that crosses our path, but through what we do, lives do get saved, and yes, most of the time there are no credit given for success. We don’t do what we do for credit or reward, or even because it is expected of us. We do it because of who we are, and when it comes to maters of the human being, that is crucial to making a difference.

One can have all the knowledge, all the theory, and all the will power in the world, if the love, compassion and connection with people are lacking, then all effort will be in vain.

Because of the apparent overwhelming problem, it is often very easy to lose perspective, because of a variety of factors. We don’t have uniforms, we don’t have blue or red lights on our vehicles, and there’s no government authority to back us up in time of need or emergency. Our society, along with the people in authority, view the problem as one that can be dealt with a fair amount of ignorance. Our society has created and maintain the idea that the problem of addiction can be ignored, and when that becomes a problem in itself, should be handled by medical professionals.

Another factor why it is so easy to lose perspective is that most people working in the circles of addiction are working in isolation, either because of geographical elements, different social classes, a difference in our approach to dealing with the problem or in many cases the presence of a stubborn religious spirit. None of which are valid excuses when compared with the size of the problem we are facing.

We are indeed, without any doubt in the business of saving people’s lives, and one of our main concerns should be on how to improve on the methods already in use. To do that, I will in short look at the problem of addiction as it appears on the surface, the chemical dilemma, the Spiritual reality and the real issue at hand.

 

On the surface

I firmly believe that addiction in itself is not a problem, but rather a secondary effect of a social problem of which I will refer to later. For the moment I will however refer to the problem of addiction when I state that it presents itself in many forms, whether we acknowledge it or not.

Socially acceptable forms of addiction includes the smoking of cigarettes, moderate drinking patterns, certain forms of sexual behaviour, certain prescribed medicine like pain killers, and even something as basic as an addiction to eating or the consumption of sugar and/or caffeine.

It is only when it appears that a person has been involved with the more familiar illegal substances that society starts to raise their eyebrows while drawing own preconceived conclusions about the individual, the family and the neighbourhood.

A person for example addicted to heroin in Pretoria west, a much poorer neighbourhood is more than likely to be treated in a different manner than a person with the same addiction living in Waterkloof. Because of a social class, there might be difference in behaviour between the two people, but the fundamental elements which consists of the chemical reaction in the body, the basic of human needs and the presence or lack of will power, resilience, intelligence, wisdom and faith remains the same.

On the surface, the problem of addiction stretches over socio-economic classes, over different cultures as well as geographical and religious borders. On the surface we are aware of existing drug dealers, one or two people in our community addicted to drugs or alcohol, and our perception of what goes on in prisons. On the surface we have made up our minds to the apparent danger the problem hold to ourselves and to our children, yet most of the time it is based on a very limited understanding of the problem as a whole.

On the surface, drug and alcohol addiction is an existing problem, but for as long as it doesn’t touch myself as an individual, there is no need to address it.

Though I stated that it is very difficult, maybe even impossible to confine the problem to a certain class or geographical border, I would like to point out that apart from spiritual borders which I’ll discuss later, there is an element playing a vital role in the battle of addiction.

When I go the pet shop, and I buy myself a gold fish as pet I put it in the pocket of my shirt. I give it everything it needs, feeding it at the right times of day, gives it a bit of water to drink and even pet it with my hand a little for comfort. How long will that gold fish survive in the pocket of my shirt? I’m no expert on the survival of fish but I don’t think he will last more than ten or fifteen seconds. He can have everything he needs, but if he is not living in the right atmosphere, he will most certainly die.

The analogy is relevant to both the individuals struggling with the problem, and the problem itself. There are most certainly homes and environments within communities, so healthy on various levels of existence that it is virtually impossible for a person to fall into any addictive behaviour. Likewise are there environments in existence with such an atmosphere that it is very difficult for the problem of addiction to survive and thrive in a person’s life. Creating that atmosphere however, both in theory and practically is a discussion in itself. Yet in order to do that we will first have to have a basic understanding of the wonderful way we were created.

That brings me to the next facet of the secondary problem.

 

The chemical dilemma

 

Psalm 103 v 3 says that “He forgives [every one] all of our iniquities, and He heals all [every one] of our diseases.”
“87% OF ALL DISEASES ARE A RESULT OF WHAT GOES ON IN OUR THOUGHT LIFE!” – Dr Caroline Leaf.

Most of people are aware of the fact that our brain consists of an amazing network of nerves and chemical processes constantly at work, thinking, operating, repairing and organizing information at a rate we ourselves struggle to fully comprehend.

According to cognitive neuroscientist Dr Caroline Leaf (PhD in Communication Pathology), research shows us that each nerve in the brain has some branches, much like the branches of a tree. Each nerve consists of a trunk, called a axon, and branches called dendrites.

Your brain performs 400 billion actions per second, of which you are conscious of 2000!

Every time we have I thought, it creates a new branch inter-connected to feelings which sits with other nerves/branches. Each time we think of, meditate or remember a certain thought or piece of information, we grow new branches on the same nerve, making that specific nerve stronger and denser with the amount of branches located there, regardless whether the thoughts or associated feelings are positive or negative.

It is also proven that these branches can over a short period of time (as little as 28 days) be removed and replaced with other branches (thoughts).

This is crucial information when we attempt to help people alter their behaviour towards a healthier lifestyle.

Illegal drugs can be categorised in the following three categories:

  • Stimulants which include Crystal, Crystal Meth and Ecstasy, all stimulating the central nervous system, increasing alertness and physical activity.
  • Depressants which include alcohol and cannabis, depressing the central nervous system.
  • Hallucinogens, which includes LSD, Magic mushrooms, affecting a person’s perception, sensations, thinking and emotions.

The most common drugs are:

  • Cannabis, in my opinion along with alcohol a gateway substance to various other more harmful drugs
  • Cocaine, otherwise known as Coke, Crack falling in the same ‘methamphetamine’ category as Ecstasy, most commonly used in various designer drugs.
  • Ecstasy, pharmaceutical name is MDMA
  • Heroin which has a relative high level of dependency
  • Alcohol, one of the very few if not only substance that can result in death if not treated properly in the process of recovery.

Because the human body and the workings of the brain is so complex and because we have such a limited understanding of the brain, it is often very difficult to predict the outcome when certain chemicals or substances are used. When a person then, experiments with various substances, he or she has no idea of the extent of damage caused. In most cases where such a person is seeking help, a psychiatrist prescribes ‘n dose of drugs that will often help maintain a workable and expectable condition, and might even save the person’s life in the short term, but rarely solves the problem. Because of the complexity of the brain it will often happen that the psychiatrist will work on an experimental basis to see what works and what doesn’t.

The reason I refer to a chemical dilemma is that a person who constantly needs to be maintained by whatever psychotic drugs prescribed, is not a healthy human being. If then the person’s wellbeing is the first priority, drugs should be used for the short term, and surely not as a permanent solution.

Though grateful for the progress made in recent years, I still believe that the greatest breakthroughs in psychiatry is still to come.

I have unfortunately, through many encounters found that there are quite a few people in the psychiatric industry who have replaced their definition of healing with the definition of maintaining a temporarily solution. It is a very unfortunate business then that the ones who suffer the consequences are the same ones who needs our help so desperately.

The upside is that, while the psychiatric industry is maintaining conditions and making breakthroughs, there is and always have been, another component to the secondary problem. While the workings of the brain and all associated chemicals can be categorised as downright complicated, this component would much better be described as mysterious, yet at the same time the essence of simplicity itself.

Let’s have a look at the spiritual reality.

 

The spiritual reality

The principles behind addiction are basically the same as what is behind any destructive behaviour in any person’s life. It starts with lies we believe, often because of a lack of knowledge of the Word of God, and progresses into subtle behavioural changes, often unnoticed by those around us, not even associated with addiction. Progressively the identity is compromised and what follows is a single step toward a substance, which in Biblical terms can be referred to giving Satan a foothold in an area of the person’s life. Naturally, the person would not, even though having the apparent knowledge, be aware of what is happening in the spiritual realm. This can happen to both Christians and non-believers and the forces behind these substances does not discriminate between age, race or gender. A baby girl dying because of a neglecting drunk father is just as much the work of Satan as is the homeless heroin addict giving his last breath at a traffic light. God’s will for us is a life in abundance and everything associated with any form of addiction stands contrary to that.

Therefore, concerning the battle against the problem of addiction, giving your hart to Christ is the single most powerful and most likely the single most difficult thing one can do, to overcome the bondage one finds oneself trapped in. The Devil knows it, and in order to prevent it, he will keep your mind occupied with whatever it takes for you not to take a step like that, whether it be through multiple voices in your head, through insecurity with your mind racing between right and wrong, or just through depression to make you blind for the truth behind the matter. Like many aspects in life, the spiritual reality behind addiction is also some of a paradox, for it is likely to happen that when a person is in the darkest place ever, he or she might just reach out to the only help available, found in Christ. It would be difficult to draw up statistics of such matters, but in such a state the person is just as likely to consider suicide as well.

To not elaborate the truth into a lengthy sermon, I will in short touch on two notions, painting a picture of the object not visible to our natural eyesight.

First the choice between the two trees. We have the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. God tells Adam and Eve to eat from any tree, apart from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They are deceived by lies and there are consequences.

Most addicts, while using or even doing well in recovery remains at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Instead of peace, their minds are constantly racing between right and wrong. Unfortunately our modern western society has set the stage and created an atmosphere where that kind of state of mind seems quite normal. One can only use human rights as an example.

Now without a sense of peace, it is very difficult to attract the fruits of the Spirit into our lives, for if peace is lacking there will most certainly be an absence of longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness and temperance, all of which is needed for a strong foundation of love and joy, and then in return, peace.

With a state of mind dwelling at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, there are also no rest, which leads over a period to fatigue, resulting in a downward spiral to poor decision making and less clarity about the particular situation and perspective regarding the immediate circumstances.

The bottom line? Recovery can be an awful lot harder if not done at the tree of life.

The second notion I’d like to bring across is the idea of where we as human beings fit into the world. Not many people are aware of this and you are far less likely to think upon the idea when not sober minded, but we as human beings are a rare species indeed. We are the only beings in the world who are both physical and spiritual at the same time. God and the angels is fully spirit. So is Satan and all his demons. The rest of the world is all physical, from the animals, plants to the finest of atoms in the soil. We as human beings were created fully spirit, and fully natural physical human. We were, and it is a spiritual principal as it is the Word of God, to rule over creation. What Satan has effectively done is to create such a confusion that through addiction, we have some physical substances, ruling over us, this upsetting the order in which creation was meant to be.

We do not have to stop there for by, and through the Holy Spirit, can be part of the establishment of God’s Kingdom here on earth. Even a non-believer would be foolish to ignore the impact prayer, fasting, a close loving community, the daily reading of the Word of God and worshiping have on such individuals. It is proven that these activities have a profound impact on a person’s state of being, ultimately playing a role in the identity which is also a crucial part in recovery.

If we as facilitators of recovery disregard the importance of creating a drug safe environment where spiritual needs are met, then we ourselves falls short of a big part of the solution, which remains right in front of our eyes.

 

The real issue

As with many of the social issues and problems, we face in our world today, addiction, whether it be substance related or any other behaviour, can be solved by a change in community. The majority of people making a contribution when it comes to substance abuse, is fighting at a level where the problem is visible in individual’s lives. The real problem lies much deeper and on a much broader scale.

A community or society with strong values, a strong foundation of faith, a strong sense of identity, close relationships and a healthy social life have a far less chance of ending up with people in need of recovery, than a community where individualism, human rights and entertainment is prioritised above the wellness of the collective community. I’m not totally convinced that awareness of the dangers of drug abuse is as effective as the promoting of a healthy, inclusive, loving and caring community. That in itself is still a concept in need of a breakthrough, not necessarily in knowledge for communities have out of a necessity of survival practiced these principles for centuries now, but rather a breakthrough of the heart and mind so entangled in the grandness and splendour of modern society.

The breakthrough will also have to come from people like ourselves, just because the current authorities does not have the will power nor the vision for a Godly and righteous community.

When viewing the issue of substance abuse in such a light, we are without any doubt, burdened with a mammoth task, which might take decades to sort out.

Well, we’re not going anywhere are we? We might just as well get to it, and work with all our might!

 

Written and continually practiced by Adriaan Snyman, through the grace and power God the Father, through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who dwells in each of us.

 

*****

The Struggle is real

The Struggle is real

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

Where is your struggle?
Where is your real?
I would tell you about a rose garden proper
The joyous laughter of an English tea
The glorious delight soaking in the purest of discourse.
Yet the rusty chains of being weighed and found wanting,
Simmering one down to the deepest black of pits,
reveals to us both, this broken world, battered with mourning.

 

Where is your struggle?
Where is your real?
I would show you the kingdom of God
Bursting forth out of souls of children
Wearing nothing but the vivid bright of white
The essence of a humble simplicity
Covered in richness more than heart could wish for.
Alas! The somber grey veil covering our eyes,
Our faces, our being,
Lamentably hauling the passion from our fragile nature.

 

Indeed! The struggle is real.
Yet when, experienced from within
The safety of a loving hand
Instilling every calculated serene reflection
Graciously defining the blink of our existence
Constantly adding a sweet aroma of soothing moral fiber
Flooding the mind with an ever-increasing calm.
Higher ground is found,
The spirit of heaviness lifted,
Perceived fear has lost its harm,
Your tension is forevermore released.
Tell me if you may,
Where is your struggle?
Where is your real?

 

*****

Avo and Rosy

Avo and Rosy

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

Once upon a time there was an avocado tree by the name of Avo.

Avo was an evergreen tree whose leaves did not whither.

He was bearing much fruit in his season.

Avo was a young tree but he stood firm in the ground, receiving fresh water from a fresh water brook next to it.

Close by grew a tremendously beautiful, young grape vine.

Her name was Vine.

Vine had many sweet looking grapes, and both Avo and Vine were delighted to speak to each other.

They took a significant liking in each other and both agreed that they wanted to grow next to each other, both drawing water from the same brook.

Avo’s desire was however that they keep drinking from the same water stream and that they not grow their branches intertwined with one another until an agreed upon and appointed time.

Avo remembered how, long ago, he allowed a beautiful lemon tree to grow all around him from top to bottom. They enjoyed of each other’s fruit in abundance, but after a while a rottenness in the roots of the lemon tree, started weakening her branches, and the dependence on Avo was so great, that he was not only hindered in growth, but also prevented from bearing fruit and even of drinking water from the stream. But it was long ago, and Avo didn’t want that to happen again.

Beautiful Vine however, challenged the idea of not intertwining their branches by asking where on earth, from the water stream or anywhere else Avo got the idea from. Vine nevertheless accepted it and agreed that it was a good idea.

Immediately came an extremely vivid dream to Avo. It was light all around him, but soon the light appeared to be flames, and his whole world around him burned down to the ground. Avo didn’t understand the dream and upon discussing the dream with La Grande Orange, the trusted orange tree standing further up the stream which also produced much good fruit, came to the conclusion that the dream was related to another matter altogether.

Now the beautiful Vine thought it good to let just one of her branches grow around some of the leaves of the avocado tree, and although it was against the desire of Avo, he, with much enjoyment, allowed it for the moment, but didn’t quite get used to it, as it bothered him a great deal.

A very sad thing came about, as some of Vine’s fruit, turned out to be sour grapes, and so Avo couldn’t enjoy the fruit to the full extent, making the beautiful Vine rather unhappy and confused.

Vine decided then to withdraw her branches from Avo for a set time. Avo in his turn didn’t understand what was happening, and became extremely sorrowful, especially because beautiful Vine was so strong and firmly planted.

Then something even worse happened. A thunder storm broke out above Avo, with dreadful strong winds, hammering in full force against him. Lightening struck all around in total darkness and a vast hail storm came crashing down on Avo. It was so harsh that his avocado fruit, his leaves and his branches were severely damaged.

Other trees, who didn’t drink water from the stream, ridiculed him, showing him that he is not a good tree by the looks of his damaged fruit. Some thorn bushes, being dry and not having any water, also tried to pull him down.  Many other beautiful trees still invited him to allow them to grow and intertwine their branches with his, but he knew that it would be immoral and in the wrong.  The most terrible instance was a tree telling him of the clean water stream being polluted, which was a lie and a utter falsehood, and the avocado tree didn’t believe it.

Eventually, after a short period of time, the storm calmed down and although Avo was strong and healthy, he felt the pain of the damage and came to the full realization of his extremely fragile state. The battered Avo knew that, not to do anything and just stand strong was for the moment a very wise thing to do. And it was exactly what he did. Standing strong and drinking water from the fresh water brook.

After a while, Vine decided to approach Avo, and told him that, although Vine can see Avo is a good tree, because of several reasons, she doesn’t want to grow next to him and they cannot have their branches growing together, ever again.

Avo was grateful for Vine’s honesty, and understood many things which he didn’t understand before. In spite of the new found wisdom, there came a dark and dense mist over Avo. The tree, still battered as ever just kept drinking more and more water from the brook, but didn’t feel it helping, as the mist just wouldn’t go away. The mist was so intense that Avo couldn’t see anything, and the most awful feeling came over him. Avo started weeping to such an extent that the other trees thought he would wither and die. To see big strong Avo crying was a horrific sight and traumatic in every sense. But he stood strong and remained ever closer to the brook.

It was for a season. A season that would one day be totally forgotten. And the season together with all its sorrows did pass. And the fruit of that season came to good use, marvelous in the sight of all to see.

And in a season and a time, came the delightful rose tree. Her name was Rosy. She was splendid in all her ways, with her red and white roses breathtaking as ever. The smell of each flower was from out of this world and having grown her branches all around Avo, blossomed like no other tree ever.

The fragrance became so overwhelming, so heavenly that Avo brought forth fruit a hundred fold, and all the trees testified to the fact that this joining together was exceptional in every way. So much so that all the other trees, by way of the delicious fruit, the exhilarating scent and the spectacular view of the unification between Avo and Rosy, couldn’t help but to draw closer to the brook of fresh water, and all drank freely of it, without any scarceness.

 

*****

An unnatural smile

An unnatural smile

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

Eleanor Van Dyk was aware of a very uneasy, unnatural smile, as she looked at the bold headed man sitting diagonally across her.

Ever so often, Eleanor could see through people, as if through visions and pictures, it was shown to her, either the immediate state of a person, for instance what the person is struggling with, or sometimes she could see what was going to happen to the particular person concerning the nearby future.

Naturally she didn’t always utter in a verbal manner what it was she saw, as she came to realize that people’s reaction to her visions weren’t always favorable. Yet she only saw vaguely, that what was hidden in the deepest parts of people’s hearts. So deep, that people were themselves afraid to go there, and admit what it was within them that remained an underlying hindrance, pain or issue.

But this was different.

The man sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, looked like he could be in his sixties. Dressed in a brown suit, he paged through one of the used magazines from the coffee table, which served as a division between Eleanor and himself.

The unnatural smile Eleanor saw, wasn’t on his face. No, she clearly, more clearly than ever before, saw him smiling over the dead corpse of a young girl. His hands covered in blood, but ever so strangely with a facial expression of total satisfaction, relaxation and peace.

For a moment Eleanor shook her head, as to get rid of the disturbing image she beheld, and looked with utter dismay at the man browsing through the magazine. Most shocking, the expression on his face now in the natural was exactly the same as in the vision.

Then suddenly, without Eleanor having any control over what she sees, her sight went back to the vision, with that strikingly, eerie, unnatural smile. Her gaze goes down to the little girl, no more than four years of age, whose body lies lifelessly on the wooden floor of an apartment. Dressed neatly in a simple yellow dress, with patterns of blue spots. Her beautiful and innocent blond hair loose all around her, mingled in the dark red blood.

A tear started running down the fine lines of Eleanor’s face, as she finally ripped herself out of the vision, eyes amusingly wide open when she saw the man, who, having put the magazine on his lap, and without blinking, were fixing his gaze on her.

She froze, and for a split second wanted to wipe the tears from her face, but wisely decided not to do so.

How could she have known what to think, when the doctor’s door opened, and out came walking a young blond girl being dressed in a simple yellow dress with patterns of blue spots.

How could Eleanor have known what to say, when she saw the terrified look on this young girl’s face, walking toward the bold headed man?

How could Eleanor have known what to do, when she noticed the blue marks on the girl’s arms and legs, and the look of judgement the doctor gave the man as he rose to take the girl’s hand.

“What’s wrong honey?” an older woman sitting next to Eleanor asked, as the man with the unnatural smile left the practice, hand in hand with the girl.

“Nothing mommy,” she replied, for what could she say? Eleanor herself was only about five years of age.

 

*****

Suicide season

Suicide season

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

“Seriously? How do you figure him to save the day? He is suicidal himself!”

It was Greta speaking in her neat constable outfit sitting in the back of the police vehicle, moving with heartrending speed to the Van Wyk Bridge, which is known for its many suicides every year.  Sitting in front were a newly transferred constable who found himself at the steering wheel, and Police Captain Brink, who just, over the phone, asked an old friend of his to help out with the scenario they were called out to.

“Believe you me,” Captain Combrink said, “we take this personally. As police officers we are emotionally involved. Anton doesn’t give a damn. He would be able to establish trust much sooner than you would, my dear.”

“Captain!” Greta retorted. “Don’t you ‘my dear’ me! The information we have is that this guy is an artist who according to the neighbors, happens to be very in touch with his feminine side!”

“And you point is?” Captain Combrink said calmly without showing any emotion.

“He will take one look at Anton and decide to jump of that bridge!”

“And you know that how, Greta?”

“Because I myself take one look at Anton and I want to put a bullet through my skull!”

Captain Combrink suppressed a smile when he said: “Yes, have we not heard that one before. You say that about half the men in our department!”

“It’s not funny Captain, I don’t think Anton should be allowed on the scene.”

Captain Combrink kept silent for a moment.

“Greta,” he said keeping his eyes in front of him. “Just trust me on this one. Anton will do a fine job. He may not be in the force, but he knows how to go about people, and above all, he has got nothing to lose. Remember, we have consequences if this thing goes South on us.”

“I hope for your sake so Captain, I hope for your sake so,” Greta said shaking her head.

It is standard practice not to use the noisy and alarming police sirens in such cases, as it might provoke further tension concerning the particular matter at hand, and thus the vehicle, with one other police car came to a halt not far from where a man was standing on the bridge, on the other side of the railing, holding on to a metal frame, with a three storey drop to the river embankment below him.

Apart from Captain Combrink who tried to establish a connection with the poor man, all people and police personnel kept a decent distance, obeying his every demand but kept their gaze steadfastly on him. Some members of the public had their cameras video recording the man, yet as a fortunate matter, he was in such a state that he didn’t notice the attention of the crowd, which rapidly grew during the half hour prior to his ill-fated position.

In less than ten minutes after Captain Combrink’s arrival with his team, Anton, with his old 1978 Yellow Datsun, came to a halt only a couple of paces behind the two police vehicles.

In the most casual manner ever, he threw his half eaten sandwich on the passenger seat, hopped out of the car and without saying a word, whooshed past the Police officers, straight to the man clinging to the edge of the bridge.

“Keep your distance!” the man shouted at Anton, but Anton kept walking right at him.

“I’ll let go! I swear I’ll jump!!” The man shouted all the more panic stricken.

Anton resolutely kept closing in, and when he was about five meters away from the man, he could hear the man crying, saying with a broken voice, “Don’t please, don’t… just leave me alone…”

Anton came to a standstill slightly to right of the man, then climbed with his feet over the barrier, resulting him to sit on top, with his feet hanging down on the other side. He had an overwhelming calm and quietness about him and to the surprise of both the public and the police, neither the man, nor Anton said a word. Anton seemed quite at his leisure sitting on the ledge, and the man just stood there, still having a firm grip which was the only vice keeping him from a fatal connection with the ground below.

“I’m finished…” the man said after a while in a course voice while he looked down.

“I know,” Anton said very softly, with so much empathy in his voice that the man didn’t feel like arguing.

Tears started running down the man’s face, and his upper body started to shake as he was crying, where upon Anton placed his left hand on the man’s right shoulder.

“Come over, climb over… let me help you,” Anton said calmly, very respectfully, while the man submitted and let Anton help him over the barrier, back to safety.

The moment his feet touched the concrete, his knees started shaking as his legs gave in under him, and he collapsed right there on the cement sidewalk. Anton sat down with him, and held him in his arms, softly and with much calm, repeating over and over again, “It’s all right, and it’s all right.”

The police came running closer as to officially secure the situation, but Anton viciously waved his left hand to them, showing them to not come close and to rather let them be. After looking back to Captain Combrink for confirmation, they reluctantly obeyed him, and Anton and the man sat on the cold cement of the bridge there, for a good twenty minutes or so, not speaking a word.

“Why is life like this?” The man asked Anton after a while.

“I don’t know man, I don’t know…”

“Why did you come? Who are you? Why weren’t you afraid?” The man asked with the marks of dry tears on his face.

“This was me a week ago,” Anton said. “Only I didn’t think of using a bridge, I had the privilege of a loaded pistol, two bullets and the privacy of my own apartment.”

“And?” the man asked raising his eyebrows.

“I don’t know,” Anton continued. “I guess God still wants me alive. Someone came and, without words, convinced me to give it another go… to get up and give life one more try.”

Anton shrugged his shoulders, narrowed his eyes and gave a faint smile when he said; “And here I met you today!”

*****