The gift of the shadow of death.

(Photo taken in my backyard.)

(Photo taken in my backyard.)

This morning I saw my friend Abe for the first time in weeks. He looked bright-eyed and well-tended. As we spoke, I noticed a body brace peeking out from his windbreaker and asked him what had happened.

“I got beaten with a baseball bat, ” he said, matter-of-factly. He said he was hospitalized for more than a month.

Abe is a gentle, peaceful man. I doubt there was anything he did to provoke such an attack though, even if he had, he should not have to experience such brutality.

“I could have died,” he told me. His attitude was one of gratitude that he had survived, that God was with him, even in the midst of violence, and that God is with him now.

Shortly after that, I saw another friend, who put on a cheerful face when I greeted him. He didn’t look as bright as I’d seem him in the past. “You seem a little down in the dumps.”

“I’ve had a set-back,” he told me.

I learned that his camp had been raided without the 24-hour posted notice that law enforcement are required to give. All of his belongings were taken. He was starting from zero. He didn’t ask for anything, said he was grateful just to have someone listen. “I’ve been carrying that around inside. It feels good just to tell someone.” He plans to be baptized at our Easter celebration. He is ready to give all that he is to Jesus, to follow the way of Christ as best he can.

The human spirit is amazing. The instinct to survive, to reach toward the possibility of new life, is palpable, even with those who find themselves living on the edge. Perhaps this is a gift that can be found in life on the edge. It may be similar to what 12-steppers call “the gift of the bottom,” when we are at the place where we have fallen apart so completely that there is no fall-back position. It is in that place where we can come to believe that, with God’s help, it might just be possible to fall back together.

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
This entry was posted in 12-step spirituality, Baptism, Christianity, Diocese of Florida, faith, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The gift of the shadow of death.

  1. tjmcfee says:

    Reblogged this on brainsections and commented:
    Some homeless in our town have recently started to become violent. I wonder if the new surge in aggression in our homeless community can be traced to homeless people losing all their belongings in raids (i.e. throwing away their tents, etc.) I also wonder if there will ever be a study to find out if there is a correlation between government confiscation of a homeless persons property and subsequent convictions for violent/property crimes OR if those actions result in the hospitalization/death of the homeless person.

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