The First Stone

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My wife and I had a friend, Samson Rightfoot, whose wife, Dorothy Rightfoot, left him three years ago.

The experience depressed him that he had hallucinated about ending his life, but we realized that though at the age of 35, he had much more to live for.

“You have much to be happy about,” my wife told him, “hold yourself together.”

“I’ve worked for the last five years,” he sobbed, and my wife had fought back a tear that was betraying her.

“I know how much your wife meant to you,” I added my voice in consolation. “We’ll be with you all the way.” My friend had lifted his head and gazed directly at me. It was a delight for my family to be useful to a depressed soul. I felt, however, disturbed that a family man of more than ten years would sink into disrepair, but considering my own love for my wife and our two children, I felt pity for his condition.

I was learning much more from the weakness of human nature, for here was a man who had devoted his life to the progress of his family and when that forward march was interrupted and the one who meant a lot to him left unceremoniously, he sunk into utter hopelessly. What crime could one commit to bring him such humiliation and disappointment! I was not judge on human nature, but I felt extremely disturbed and examined how far my family had come. I argued with myself that the situation could be reversed for he was like one of those living dead roaming in Monrovia searching for life’s meaning, but sadly their misfortunes had been greater than their fortune, and they simply lived for the day.

Samson was a jovial fellow, and I remember fairly well his positive response after we examined his situation, one Sunday evening.

“I appreciate both of your concerns for me,” Rightfoot said, smiling.

“That’s what friends are for,” I said, and my wife, Elizabeth Bluecross, nodded to reassure him that we meant well.

“Sam,” Rightfoot said, “it takes friends to make friends and truly speaking, I am overwhelmed,” his eyes filled with tears, and I moved in to console him.

I held his hands together and squeezed them, with a comment, “Don’t give up, dear friend.”

My response forced a grin and a laugh from my friend, and we all laughed, including my wife.

“We need each other sometimes, Sam,” I pleaded, with a look of concern on my face.

“I had loved her with everything,” my friend moaned, wiping his face with the back of his right hand.

I said, “You are welcome to our home and though New Kru Town has its own minuses and pluses, come here whenever you need someone to even talk to.”

With his eyes filled with tears, Samson extended his right hand and I grabbed it, as we pumped it for a while, before he eased his grip and I followed suit.

That evening, Sam got the best entertainment from us and before he left, my wife managed, with my agreement, to push some money into his pocket, to enable him reach Logan Town.

When his troubles began, Samson resorted to heavy drinking that took a toll on him and our swift intervention, and his eventual realization that we were there for him and rescued him from his what have been his dissent into what many in our Logan Town community saw as his journey into the abyss of despair and hopelessness.

In the course of time, Samson discovered his jovial self. He became a frequent visitor to our home, as we had instructed him to do.

In all fairness, Samson was an amiable fellow and I was particularly grateful that I was able to use my influence on my wife to help another soul. We showed him every bit that we wanted him to know we cared for, and about him.

“What we are doing for you,” I told him during one of his visits, “means our love and with Christ’s directive to lend a hand when a brother is down.” My response elicited a smile from my friend, and he was forced to reply, “Sam, it will be better for you to take the Cross.”

“I was not meant to be a preacher,” I confessed, “but maybe one day, when the Lord wills it, I will be.”

We all laughed over it.

I knew that life had a way of punishing people, and particularly with the increasing number of family problems; one would always need another’s shoulder to cry on.  Many people fail to work through their problems; they would not even make an attempt to find a workable solution, and as a result, they contribute to their own misery and would make it seem as though the family arrangement would always be on a try and error basis. There have been others who have blamed the divine, as their problems worsened, they have looked into the heavens and blamed the creator for their troubles. There are still others who have directed their failures on their relatives, since it is so easy to blame an old relative when life’s troubles begin to hurt so much.

The recent report that the deadly Ebola virus has affected ‘some’ people in Liberia and the manner the news was publicized in the country created much apprehension that I wondered what preventive measures were clearly necessary to fight back. I was not particularly pleased with the kind of preventive measures announced by health officials, if at all it was honestly discovered in the part of the country where travelers from Guinea used as their transit point, but I knew it was someone’s job to get the message across and since they chose to broadcast it with the emotion of fear, well so be it.

We discussed particular about information that two days after sample tissues of the five persons allegedly affected with the deadly Ebola virus returned from Paris, France, and it was announced that at least two of the dead had had the virus my friend Samson Rightfoot came to my house, visiting with my family as usual.

As we sat to talk, we joked about the unnecessary tension the confirmation of the virus’ presence in Liberia had raised, and later my wife suggested that we should get something to drink and some food from a nearby shop, since it was a Saturday, and the day was wasting away, slowly.

It was a good thing and I decided to rush to the nearby shop to get something for all of us.

“I think I should go with you,” Samson said, but I felt he should not bother. I just wanted him to feel at home.

“Just wait right here,” I said, “I will be back with the drinks.”

“A couple of stouts will be fine with me,” he told me, and I nodded my consent.

He did not appreciate my refusal for him to go along with me, but I insisted, because I knew it was my duty to make him more comfortable anytime he was around my family. So I left him with my wife.

The location of our house sat across a smaller road, jutting toward the main trunk road. The house’s windows were located in opposite, but awkward positions that one could be coming from either of the two windows, without anyone in the room being aware.

It took me about twenty five minutes to get the drinks from a center just across from the nearby Plaza Cinema. I was approaching towards one of the windows, and to my shock, I saw what I thought it happening in a dream; or like it was happening in a movie.

My friend Samson was in close contact with my wife, and as I approached, the two held each other in an uncompromising posture that filled me with disgust and anger.

Perhaps it was the reality of ‘thirty days for rogue, and one day for master’ and as the couple did not notice my presence, I stood watching them painfully till they ended up their passionate kiss.

It was rather too late for them to have claimed any of the many things as the reasons for their intimate closeness and fumbling and betrayal.   The moment they saw me, they let each other loose and over-reacted so violently that in a few seconds, my friend began to sweat.

At the store, along with the drinks I bought several tins of corn beef, some loaves of Fula bread. I placed them on the table before my faithful wife and wonderful friend.

“How was it while I was gone?” I said, and it was like torture to both of them, but my friend mustered some courage.

“Everything was fine,” he said, in a voice that betrayed his sincerity, lowering his head and avoiding my gaze.

I said, “Ok, what about you Honey?” My wife, who had her head down, could not raise it to look directly into my face, and though I was enjoying the torture, I felt sorry for them.

It became apparent to me that the uneasiness was so overpowering that Samson wanted to find an excuse and save himself the painful memory of the tragic scene that he knew I had openly witnessed.

“It was fine,” my wife managed to say, and began to move towards the kitchen.

Grabbing one of the Fula bread, I said to my wife, “Honey, give me one of the butcher knives from the counter.”

Suddenly, she said, “What for?” And my friend Samson’s face turned sharply to me, but he could not utter a word.

“I just need a butcher knife,” I said derisively, “I left my faithful wife with my true friend to get something from the store. I returned and I need a butcher knife, and you don’t want to give it to me?”

“You don’t need a butcher knife to slice bread,” Samson retorted with a grin and avoided my gaze.

“You’re right,” I said, “but did anything go wrong here?” I was in control of the ugly scenario. I had the instinct for vengeance but I realized that there was a part of me that was seeking forgiveness for them and for myself. After all I had an occasion to expound and encourage my friend about the forgiveness and kindness of God. I even told him about the comfort that the Messiah encouraged all his followers to demonstrate towards each other. While examining these issues, my friend had fortunately exited the house without my knowledge. By then my wife was in tears.

Surprisingly, I felt tears in my eyes, too, for who would deliberately cut off the hands the feed him as my friend Samson had done? I then became convinced that many people employ the first years of their lives to make the rest miserable. The weakness in human nature returned to me but then I was determined to hold on to the belief that we are responsible for our actions. Because forgiveness does not mean the reversal of the status quo, for the fact is you have to deal with the consequences of your action, as my friend eventually came to learn the hard way, though I searched in my heart to forgive him.

But, regarding my wife, I knew we got together for the worst or the best and I was, may be denying myself the chance to find a way to payback. I knew life must move on with forgiveness, I remembered Christ’s admonition, “Cast the first stone if you are not a sinner.”

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