When I was a teenager a group of us went white water rafting. We signed up with a company somewhere in the mountains and ventured off. With all the courage a prairie-boy like me could muster, I put on my life-vest, grabbed a paddle, and jumped in the boat. My friends and a few adults were with us, and my younger sister was in another boat. Six boat in all pushed off the shore for an afternoon of fun.
At some point everything went wrong. Perhaps the water was too fast, maybe we were too inexperienced, or maybe it happens often, but several rafts hit a particularly rough patch and flipped over. Kids and teenagers were swept down the river. I recall spending half my time gurgling under the water, trying in vain to figure out what to do next. Then, out of nowhere came a boat that didn’t flip over. Someone grabbed me and I was dragged up into the boat. All I remember asking was if my sister was alright. They could see up the river. She was in the water, but rescued. She was alright.
It was scary, everyone had a story. One girl lost consciousness and was saved because someone saw her limp hand under water. It shook everyone up. But in the end those who were upright came to the rescue of those who were not. We got help and we needed it.
We all need help. Help is a universal need, no matter how mature, strong, or rich a person is, we need help. We might think we can go without, but disaster strikes when we least expect it and it is in those times that others become a lifeline to safety.
Help is often less about the crisis and more about the people who are with you in the crisis. Help is really about being together. It is about having people who see what you don’t. People who have, and share, what you don’t have. Help comes from people who remind us when we forget, encourage us when we get down, and give peace when life is chaotic.
The people in the boat could see the river better than I could, they found me when I was floating along, and they reassured me about my sister’s wellbeing. Without them, I would have been lost.
Creating a helping culture in our neighbourhoods is not for the weak, it takes a lot of courage to reach out to someone who is flailing around. It takes strong character and love to step into another person’s story to help them see hope. Yet one gesture of care can turn a life around.
But it also takes a brave person to ask for help. It requires trust in order to reach out and admit that we need a hand, that we’re lost or drowning, and to admit that others might see things better than we can.
Our neighbourhoods need brave people to ask for, and give, help. When we create a culture where we can courageously live with trust, grace, and care, we build the kind of neighbourhood that can navigate any white water. We can help because we’re going through it together.-