Brian was angry, hardened, and difficult. He came to us months ago with several life-destroying burdens – recovering from decades of addiction, four years of incarceration, and a recent physical disability. The constant craving for crack made him irritable and gave him spurts of manic energy. His three ways to cope with it were to have a cup of coffee, smoke a cigarette, or talk to one of the staff. If another guest opened an office door, he would dart in and start talking, causing almost daily conflicts with other guests.
As Brian worked to improve his circumstances, I was reminded how challenging it is to re-enter the everyday world after years on the streets. Simple transactions such as setting up direct deposit are disheartening for someone who doesn’t know what a bank routing number is or that the number on your bank card isn’t your account number. Embarrassing setbacks like that sorely tried his gradually improving people skills, but he kept working at it.
Through these daily difficulties, he slowly learned to be more respectful of others, to advocate for himself without becoming angry, and to ask for help when he needed it. I was privileged to walk with him as he was transformed and I developed a great deal of respect for his resourcefulness and determination to change his life.
On Easter weekend, Brian moved into a room to rent. He came in a few days later to proudly show off his keys. When I met him months ago, he was the last person I would have expected to be excited about finding a church. But when he came in with his keys, he told us about his kind landlady and how pleased he was to find a church in easy walking distance.
I think of these months of transformation as a long time of Holy Saturday for him. In church we often leap quickly from the suffering of Good Friday to the joy of Easter Sunday, overlooking the day we know so little about – the time our Lord spent in death before the resurrection. Many of our guests go through long periods of darkness like Holy Saturday and it is an amazing thing when we witness one reach their Easter Sunday morning. We praise God and rejoice in new life.
He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!