Sunday morning quarterbacking: the ladder heave

During an interview with the Oversight Committee For The Protection Of Extension Ladders, the Director of Operations at Trinity United Methodist Church, Bill Pike, admitted that he had heaved an extension ladder into a stairwell.

Fortunately, the well constructed Werner ladder sustained no injuries, nor did the rugged surface of the stairwell.

Of course, two HVAC contractors, who were with Pike in the stairwell at the time are still in a state of shock.

They were surprised that such a seemingly nice person could snap in a split second. When the contractors asked Pike if they could help him pick up the ladder, he told them: “No, I’m going to let the ladder cool off.”

This whole incident had come about because Pike had miscalculated the size of the ladder in trying to gain access to an attic hatch at the top of the stairwell. No matter which way he turned with the ladder— he clanked into walls, stair railings, and ceiling. Fortunately, he narrowly missed a collision with a sprinkler head.

For his ladder heave, the Oversight Committee For The Protection Of Extension Ladders, Pike is required to take a class on ladder trauma, audit a class on high school geometry, and is sentenced to one year of probation when using an extension ladder on church grounds. That probation requires that Pike must have another church employee or a member of the congregation with him when using the ladder.

Throughout the proceedings, Pike was remorseful. He acknowledged that the extension ladder had been a loyal friend in helping him gain access to unreachable points around the building and grounds. Pike was released to the custody of the chair of the Trustees, Jim Crowder, and Ronnie Johnson, head building caretaker.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I really did heave that extension ladder into the stairwell on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 23. I snapped. I was frustrated that I had not thought more carefully about gaining access to the attic hatch.

In truth, lots of things at church make me snap internally.

Kindhearted, well intended members ding me about lighting, speaker screen covers, chipping paint, etc.

They are correct to nag. I’m imperfect.

Some days, I suffer from tiredeyesitis. And despite tiredeyesitis, it is my job to make, or coordinate the repairs.

The pandemic years have been a challenge for our church.

Stress has impacted the staff and the congregation.

In a recent Zoom meeting of our Healthy Church Team, we worked through making a decision about relaxing the requirement to wear masks.

The meeting was long. The discussion grounded in trying to do what is in the best interest of the congregation from a health and safety perspective.

This was a challenging, but diplomatic conversation—no one snapped like the ladder heaver.

Yet, we needed a gentle reminder from our associate pastor, Hung Su Lim.

He reminded us of the following— Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22: 37-39.

No doubt, we are weary and worn from the pandemic.

We want our friend normal to reappear in the blink of an eye.

I’m sorry, but normal isn’t coming back.

We are going to be wrestling with post pandemic trauma for a long, long time.

That wrestling is not going to be easy.

Life is never easy.

But, we do have a chance to make a change.

If you, me, we, us could embrace and live—‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ we might discover a better normal.

The tossed ladder cooling off Photo by Bill Pike

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