He was sitting crouched in a chair, the blue hoodie over his head. He stood to give me a hug as I walked toward him, this skinny kid with a talent for rhyme and a bent for drugs.
His voice is soft as always but the silence he used before gave way to quick words of It’s good to be back. It’s hard out there.
The night before we’d all sat in the chapel. I’d heard that maybe he’d come back and maybe that was him curled up on a cot, the 100th person in a 99 bed facility. Let him stay I said to Gavin. We know when anyone first comes in their body is a shell and their mind a sponge that has dried hard from the toll of addiction. He didn’t need a bible class. He didn’t need to try to make himself listen or sit up. He needed rest.
Our gathering that night was different. Rather than two bible study groups we joined together to recognize the Lenten season. For some, to learn what this kind of lent is and for others to be reminded of the symbolism. For all of us to understand it’s personal how we do this giving and receiving.
Some sat with open hearts and I suspect some sat with unwanted yearnings for the poison that wants to claim their life. The magic cure alludes them because it isn’t magic but it’s work and surrender which is a lot like work.
The closing song lingers, its words echoing in my mind from the moment I woke.
Oh wanderer come home, you’re not too far
And he did. This wanderer whose face can’t even grow a decent stubble has come home.
He is just one but there are so many more. Some will come home to peace, to hope, and some will wander still. But no wanderer is too far.
I’ve done my wandering and still do. I wander from gentleness and gratitude to cynicism and complaining. Both are equal poisons that threaten to steal what God wants me to have and to share. They won’t cause me to lose my family or a job like an addiction can but they can cause me to lose who God wants me to be.
Come sit at the table, come taste of the grace
I carry my burdens refusing to share and on days when they weigh me down I become that dried up sponge thirsting for grace.
It’s important to me not to think of how we’re helping these men who come through our doors but to consider how they are helping me. How alike them I am in wanting my will rather than God’s.
God uses the humble to confound the proud, perhaps.
We sit at the table together, he and I. This man-child who hasn’t given up. Who is ready to stop wandering. He has come home to grace and hope.