Originally published in The Messenger, www.emconference.ca/Messenger
I will let you in on some disjointed experiences, conversations, and themes that took place in 48 hours. You need to see the extremes and muddle through it with us.
I won’t be doing any interpreting for you this time – just letting you in on what happens here. It’s good for our supporters to enter into all that can happen in our line of ministry – it’s good, but not comfortable. Here goes.
I came back from holidays yesterday. Life was so simple at the beach. My feet felt the sand pushing up on them. Sand is merciful and will accommodate any foot.
I haven’t even made it to my desk when a long-time, troubled friend shows up. “Have you given up on me, Kent?” he asks. He has just come back from the dead. He had overdosed, hoping to end his life on a road between his small hometown and the harsh streets that have been his other home. He woke up in a hospital, because of some Samaritan that found him unconscious on the highway. “Apparently God hasn’t given up on you,” I say, “so I better not either.”
A wealthy man approaches me and tells me what to do with gang members: “Line ’em up and shoot the &^*$%%$$! “So someone has to play God and figure out which one gets it, eh?” I reply. “Who is going to do that?” I am pretty certain that will give him pause for reflection. “I’d be happy to do it,” he quickly replies. “If you’ve got a snake, you cut his head off.”
A cake with “Thank you” scrawled on it arrives from a woman grateful to our staff for her grandson’s wonderful time while in our programs. I could eat the whole thing because those words would feel good inside. Bless her!
She tells me about her grandson, whose mother was murdered. “He was growing up thinking it was his responsibility to get revenge.” I am thinking about how big a burden that would be for an 11-year-old to carry.
I know more about this story than she realizes. The boy was left alone with his mom while she struggled for her life and he ran to get help from a neighbour. His uncle cried enough tears to fill an ocean; I prayed with him when it happened.
“It’s good, though,” she says. “The guy who killed her committed suicide, so my grandson doesn’t have to worry about that anymore and I got some closure as well.” I don’t know where to place that one.
I gotta walk. I don’t have time because I have emails to answer, but I have to walk. I move my dot on the board to “out.”
My feet touch the concrete-no mercy, cold, hard, unbending, unyielding and as harsh as sin itself.
Kent Dueck is the Executive Director of Inner City Youth Alive in Winnipeg’s North End.