Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rusty Dumpty's not so Great Fall


Our home has two skylights.  They both fulfill their purpose well, if as I assume, their purpose is to bring in sky light.  One of them, however, has developed the annoying habit of also bringing in sky rain.  I don’t know about your home, but in ours, light is welcome; rain is not.  I consulted a man more knowledgeable in such matters than I (which was easy, as I just had to consult any other man).  We went on the roof together one November day and he showed me where to caulk to prevent further interior hydration.  An hour or two later the skylight was as tight as your Uncle Scrooge, or your Uncle Scrooge’s drum, or your Uncle Scrooge  beating a drum with the minister’s cat, after a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop.

For several weeks after what I’d like to call the November Peace Caulks (but decided against it), I was cautiously optimistic that our détente might lead to a permanent resolution. But during a heavy downpour one December morning, rain began dripping down our living room wall and onto our carpet, a flagrant violation of the Rooftop Peace Accord.  Our response had to be swift and firm if we were to maintain any credibility in the international skylight community.  Heedless of the wind and weather, I donned rain-gear and ventured out.  [“Wait---if you had been in fact heedless of the wind and weather, Rusty, you wouldn’t have donned rain-gear.”] Look Pretty Boy, apart from one carol, when do we get to use the phrase, “heedless of the wind and weather?”  If you expect me to let your thoughts intrude into my stories, you’ll have to cut me some slack.

Removing the plastic tarp covering our propane grill, I began the assault on the skylight, intending to secure the tarp with bungee cords and stop the indoor precipitation.  I had climbed our aluminum extension ladder from the back deck, the cold rain dripping from my glasses, and I was at the point of carefully transferring myself from the ladder to the roof (my least favorite part of rooftop adventures) when the ladder began to slide out from beneath me.  At that moment something became clear to me that I should have realized before. [“That decks and ladders are slippery when wet, Rusty?”]  Why don’t you just hold your thoughts until the end of the story?   When I want your input, I’ll ask for it.  I was going to say it became clear to me that in the long-standing war between homeowners and skylights, the ladders are in league with the skylights. 

The bottom of the ladder slipped out away from the roof, and as it did (as is the nature of such things) the top of the ladder responded to earth’s gravitational pull.  My (not insubstantial) weight was still being borne primarily by the ladder, so I was falling backwards toward the deck.  All this seemed to happen in slow motion, and as I fell, I saw my life pass before my eyes, just as advertised.  But as entertainment, my life left a lot to be desired.  First, it was not in high definition. Worse, it was all in black and white.  I presume this is because I was born before color TV, but one would think it could have shifted into color part way through, like The Wizard of Oz.  Furthermore, it didn’t seem to have much of a plot, the acting was bad, and my life contained too many episodes of Gilligan’s Island.  I remember thinking, as I fell, “If the professor can make walkie-talkies out of coconuts, why couldn’t he strap a few palm tree trunks together and build a raft?”

But you probably want to know what happened when I hit the deck.  Although the fall was in slow motion, the landing was not.  I hit hard on my left side, with the shoulder absorbing much of the pressure.  My right knee must have hit the ladder or the deck, because it swelled up and refused to bear weight without complaint.  I lay facing the sky for a few stunned seconds, not sure which body parts were operational, and which were now operable.  My involuntary muscles were still doing their job, but no voluntary muscle was volunteering.  I suspect none wanted to be responsible for the pain sure to ensue if it dared to move.  Donna was inside when,

Out on the deck there arose such a clatter,
She sprang from the house to see what was the matter. 
Then what to her wondering eyes should appear? 
Her idiot husband, now flat on his rear.

“What happened?” she asked.

I mumbled, “That was one small step for man, one giant leap for man-iacs”         

No, that’s what I should have said.  I think what I said was, “the ladder slipped.”  Donna helped me up, and the bridge immediately hailed engineering for a damage report.

Scotty:  “The portside arm appears useless, Captain, and the starboard knee is pretty banged up. I’m not sure she can bear any weight.”  

Captain: “It has to, Scotty, the skylight is still leaking.  I’m going back up.”

Bones: “Jim, are you mad?  You can’t go back up there!  You’re down to one working arm and one good leg!  As your doctor I won’t permit it!  What do you think, Sharp Ears?

Spock: “I don’t, as they say, have a dog in this fight.”

Once the Enterprise crew had been beamed off the deck, the second skylight assault (this time with Donna holding the ladder) was successful.  With the tarp in place, for the time being at least, the skylight is no longer a skyrain.

Hopefully, this particular fall of a man will have few if any long-term consequences, but mankind suffered a fall with consequences both eternal and tragic, a fall that resulted in the corruption of our race and alienation from our Creator.  The evidence of that fall can be seen in every newscast, every newspaper, and every human heart: anger, violence, hatred, bitterness, deceit, covetousness, sexual immorality, idolatry, greed, selfishness, pride, etc----the list could go on.  And God has declared that His love for his creatures notwithstanding, His holiness and justice demand that sin be punished. “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…” [Hebrews 9:27]. 

But the wonderful news is that God had compassion on his rebellious creatures and provided a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to him! Mankind had a great fall, but God has graciously extended to us an olive branch. He sent His own beloved Son, the glorious second person of the trinity, to redeem sinners. Jesus perfectly kept His Father’s law, loving Him with all His heart, mind and strength, and loving His neighbor as Himself.  In other words, Jesus lived without sin, so He is the one man who was truly righteous in and of Himself. 

When He endured, on the cross, the wrath of His Father, the Bible makes it clear that it was for the sins of His sheep.  When a man, woman or child repents of sin and rests in the finished work of Christ, trusting Him, all his sins are forgiven, and he is reconciled to God.  Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” [John 6:47] The sin barrier that separated the creature from the Creator is removed!   It was 45 years ago this month when God opened my heart to the truth of the gospel.  You might say, from that time on, my life has been in living color. I wish the same for you.


X-rays taken the afternoon of the fall showed no broken bones, but when he could no longer fully extend the left arm, an X-ray of the elbow a few weeks later showed a fracture, and an MRI a month after that revealed a large rotator cuff tear which was surgically repaired.  Dumpty has been suffering the slings and arrows of his outrageous misfortune since then. The skylight has been replaced. You may be interested to know that climbing an extension ladder from a wet deck is not necessarily the dumbest thing Rusty has done.  You can read of several rivals for that honor in his little book of humor and inspiration, Wry Bread, available on Kindle™ or from

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