• Strohacker: Fallen Man

  • Fallen Man

    I am indeed a fallen man. And I’m not just talking Adam here. It’s at Christmas we are reminded that Jesus came down to save us, His fallen people. Ironically, I personally have taken many falls during the Christmas season.

    Some of you know about the fall I took many Christmases ago, the one in which I was backing up, dragging the Christmas tree across the living room when I tripped and went airborne. While it wasn’t my entire life that flashed before my eyes in that moment, there were certainly more thoughts that raced through my head than I ever could have imagined in that split second. Including, “Now where exactly am I going to land in regards to that tree stand with the large spike that I set out of my way?” And how surprising that while worrying about impalement, I still noticed a spot on the ceiling that I had missed when painting!

    Then there were the two semi-falls out front, both having to do with ladders and gutters, but those technically don’t count because in one my next door neighbor, Dave, came to the rescue and got the ladder back under me. The other one was, technically speaking, a hang drop from the gutters, which I had grabbed onto when the ladder fell away. Unfortunately, Diane and Jenny were backing out of the driveway at the time. I dreaded looking back when I got up off the ground, but eventually I had to turn around, and there were the two girls sitting in the car laughing! For a long time, the gutters on my house had a rather interesting…alignment.

    My most serious fall by far was from the roof onto the deck after the new, safer ladder I had purchased slid out from under me—after Diane had told me that year absolutely not to get up on the roof. The upside, however, I got my first-ever ambulance ride. Again, it involved the roof, gutters, and was during the Christmas season. Technically, while Diane had told me not to put lights on the house that year, she didn’t say anything about not cleaning out the gutters.

    A little known fact. After the ER trip, Diane and Jenny brought me home and tucked me into bed. Then they went directly out and bought an additional piece for Diane’s Christmas village, a little bitty ladder and a tiny man. She placed both lying in a snowbank next to one of the houses in her village. And they have remained there for many years since. Women can be so cruel.

    Skip ahead a few years, our first snowy day of another Christmas season, actually sleet, so I came up to the building that morning very carefully, carrying two coffee cakes, a box of homemade Christmas cookies, a 24 ounce cup of Coke from the gas station, and my briefcase. The cookies and one coffee cake were for the ladies who were running our Children’s Christmas Craft Bazaar that day, the other coffee cake was for the faculty. I actually wasn’t even walking but more like shuffling, fearful of either foot losing contact with the ground. All my thoughts were focused on not slipping on the ice.

    Turned out my focus apparently wasn’t what it used to be because once again in my life I experienced seeing my shoes with the sky as a backdrop. It truly is amazing how very many things go through your mind in that moment: “Those shoes really could stand to be polished.” “I hope I don’t break any of the cookies.” “Careful not to spill that Coke on yourself!” “Uh oh, twist to the left so you don’t land on that first coffee cake.” “Why did everything go blurry?” “Ouch, my hi…ELBOW ELBOW ELBOW!!” “I hope I don’t hit…” “Ohhh, my head…” “I hope nobody saw me.”

    Ah, so often that’s how it is with the fallen man. “I hope nobody saw me.” As if that somehow changes the fact that we have fallen…again. We attempt to conceal what we have done, to hide the results of our fallen nature.

    The Rest of the Story (as the late Paul Harvey would say)

    Becky, a counselor who works at our church, had pulled into the parking lot just behind me that icy morning. So I was seen falling after all. Again! “Chuck, are you all right?” A master’s degree in counseling, and that’s the best question she could come up with? Well, Becky did help me find my glasses in the bushes. And the left lens, which explains the blurriness, a sore back, a swollen elbow, a bruised hip (and ego), two bloody fingers, and a gash on my head. But no broken cookies, and I didn’t spill a drop of Coke. Although I did shed some blood.

    The following is most certainly true: Yes, I did have a good-sized cut over my left temple. Yes, it was bleeding and required attention. Yes, of all days, I was subbing in second grade that morning. Yes, one of the little girls, Emma, did panic and start crying when she saw the blood. Absolutely, I really dislike subbing in lower grades! Yes, Mrs. Harris, one of the second-grade moms, did wash off the cut and apply a bandage. And, yes, to the best of my recollection, she did say, “I think after class you should see a doctor…and have your head examined.” And she did indeed giggle as she said that last thing.

    Again, women can be so cruel.

    Chuck Strohacker retired at the end of the 2014–2015 school year after serving 40 years in the Michigan District, 37 of those years as a principal. He and his wife, Diane, live in retirement in St. Joseph, Mich.

    Photos by Gwen Gotsch.

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