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Jan 12, 2020 299 0 GENEVIEVE SWAN
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Heed the Warning

My head and body ached and my mind was weary with sorrow. The last image of a young man’s life lingered and would not leave my thoughts as I tossed and turned between nightmares.

Sunshine and Laughter

The weekend began cheerfully. My sister’s wedding had brought the extended family together, so we were all making the most of our time together. Taking advantage of the glorious, summer day, we headed out for a swim at Crow’s Nest Falls National Park. A pleasant walk through beautiful bushland was punctuated by a stop at the lookout to admire the view. Thirty meters below the tumbling cascades, a waterhole glittered invitingly in the sunshine.

Clambering down, we spent a golden day laughing and swimming in the cool, clear water at the bottom of the waterfall. The children delighted in jumping off rocks into the deep water, while some of the local teenagers repeatedly climbed the cliffs for more daring leaps. It was a deeply satisfying day which made me feel that “God’s in His heaven—All’s right with the world.”

When Tragedy Strikes

Until the joy and frolics were suddenly shattered by an enormous splash as a young man jumped from the lookout thirty meters above. He didn’t come up again. The trembling of a small bush on the water’s edge was the only sign he had ever been there. Desperately, we dived again and again, straining our eyes to peer through the water, vainly stretching out our hands hoping to catch hold of him.

But it was all futile. The shallow edge dropped off too deeply for our bursting lungs and aching ears to reach. Even the police divers with all their equipment would find nothing for another three days. His family grieved as his broken body was discovered eight meters below the surface.

Was There a Second Chance?

What could have prevented this tragedy? He didn’t listen to the ranger who came down to advise us about where it was safe and unsafe to jump. He didn’t learn from a near miss when he struck a shallow rock with his hand as he leapt into the water. He scoffed at the appeals of parents when he nearly landed on their children. He didn’t heed the danger signs at the lookout, warning that jumps from there had previously resulted in death and serious injury. He climbed around the barriers impeding his progress. He ignored the pleas of a friend and observers at the lookout who begged him not to jump and told him he had nothing to prove. Perhaps the friend who urged him on by telling him that another friend had done it before, will have restless nights. But, let’s not be too quick to point the finger. How many of us forget that God’s laws and civil laws are not made to annoy, but to protect us? Like any loving parent, God tries to save us from suffering damaging consequences by warning us of dangers. How many warnings and near misses do we ignore? What does it take to make us realize that sometimes it is our fault and we are the ones who need to change? How often do we act without thinking of how our actions will affect others? Why do we value fleeting pleasure above the eternal happiness of our own immortal souls?

At his funeral, his brother said that he would not have gone home satisfied if he hadn’t attempted the jump. I wept as I thought about how glad his sorrowing family and friends would be if he had simply gone home with his desire unsatisfied.

GENEVIEVE SWAN

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