The edge calls.
Some are beckoned closer, but firmly remain at a safe distance, in case danger is seen on the other side. Some dance on the edge, flitting wilfully (or sometimes unknowingly) on the fine line of safety. Some find themselves suddenly transported there, even though until that moment they had always kept their distance.
Sometimes the edge won.
When this happened, more often than not, the poor person would become overwhelmed with the burden of avoiding the treacherous fall and instead find themselves gripping on to the wrong side of a cliff face praying that someone would rescue them.
Sometimes no one came.
But worse, sometimes the people that came to help actually hindered; they grasped the wrist of the vulnerable victim, tempted them to release their grip on the cliff face, then let go. Falling, knowing there was no return, hope would vanish, sorrow would overwhelm, and dreams of a better life would surface.
The edge had many tactics to secure its prey.
Promises would be made to those with needs and wants, that they would find satisfaction if they crept closer. False friends would be found that encouraged unsafe behaviour and increased vulnerability. Hope beyond hope would be shown, just for a moment, enough to make the heart beat faster, and enough to warrant closer inspection.
And then it would be taken away.
Just as confidence had increased, just as friends had been found, just as hope had been stirred, a small nudge would lead the poor soul over the edge and falling, wishing they had never fallen for the fakeness. Like a mutiny against a confident comrade, all was lost.
But some were rescued.
Some found that they had taken with them genuine friends, who saw their pain, saw their weakness, and still walked to the edge with them to ensure that they were protected. When those genuine friends saw wounds open, they stepped forward to provide healing.
Some were restored.
In the best scenarios, such revelation took place that hope could return. Honesty led to restoration of mind, body and soul. Those that had fallen victim to mutiny were given their full titles once more, or shown respect that proved they were worth something still.
Let me move away from the edge for a moment. The most vulnerable in society are not often simply those who are poor, homeless or otherwise. The most vulnerable can also be found in broken families. Divorce leads to loneliness and despair faster than anyone can realise; neither can stay in the same house, socialise with the same people, return to the same memories. Both parties must choose who gets what, and when children are involved it can get ugly, fast. I have felt and seen the impact of divorce and it is not nice, and (worse still) it is sometimes unavoidable. Why do I focus on this one need? Because the idea of a broken family can be criticised by faith groups who insist that they should have ‘tried harder’ or somehow relied more on a deity who, in that moment, can seem insanely distant. It is also these people who regularly put up the best fronts, performing to friends as though everything is okay. However, it only takes a small event to bring them to the edge, and at that point every emotion that is held back can be directed totally the wrong way.
In those moments, who will you be? The person who reaches to save and lets go? The person who watches from a distance? Or the person that comes alongside, talks to and is honest with the poor person that finds themselves falling; the person that picks them up and says, in the words of Mother Theresa, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.”