On two different occasions this week I received hard news.
Two of my friends and members of our community had "slipped back."
Everyone here understands immediately what those words mean.
One, a mother of three teenaged children, landed in jail, charged with a drug offense that possibly involved a weapon. No one knows for sure at this point. She had been doing very well--working, married, happy. Now this incredibly low point.
It is hard to explain or to understand unless you've been here to hear her story--her life story.
If the charges are true, she must face and accept her responsibility in the matter. She will have hard work to do with her children and her friends.
My other friend, a man whose wife died of cancer toward the end of last year, ended up in jail for some sort of mix-up on a check he tried to cash. He may have been fooled by someone who paid him with a stolen check for some work he had done. Who knows?
To add insult to injury, while in jail, someone stole his old van--his work vehicle.
He dropped by to talk and to work out a small loan for a few things he needed.
He has been a drug abuser for many years, as was his late wife. Their beautiful little girl lives in another part of the state with an aunt and is doing very well there.
Thankfully, he was not using drugs--he is managing to stay clean and sober. But, he was really down. . .and pretty much alone.
He must face his situation realistically and take responsibility as well.
That said, it strikes me again that many people are living out the consequences of not only their own mistakes, but also the abuse and folly of their parents and grandparents. This is true for both of these friends of mine.
The pathologies that dog the poor are often inherited.
Getting out of the pit takes super human effort that most people cannot muster on their own.
This is where community comes in--this is what community, genuine community is all about. Community, no matter what its quality, is much like family.
When community is dysfunctional, lives continue to fail and face grave illness.
But when a community begins to turn and to thrive, people discover new ways to overcome and move beyond the circumstances, scars and blows life has dished out often so unfairly.
People need help--often they need a lot of it! We all need help, don't we?
People can land in some sure enough jams.
People need grace.
People need hope.
People need to know that no matter what, someone or a group of "someones" will never turn away.
People need to experience the security of a culture of consistent accountability that expects great things and will never settle for cop-outs, cons or self-destruction.
My friends have access to this sort of community. Their friends in this community will treat them like a brother and a sister. They will find new hope here, if they decide to embrace it.
They will need help and resources and direction.
All this and more will be made available, just like in any good family.