Let me tell you a story. A true story. This story is about a man who has been about as low as a man can go and survive. He's an alcoholic, a crack addict, has spent multiple times in prison, has two failed marriages and two children he doesn't support and never sees. All a direct result of drug addiction.
This man, at his lowest times, would often go to the dump and look for things to sell to make money to support his drug habit. Right now he claims to be clean. We've all heard that story before, yet we want to believe, that this time, it's the truth and will remain so.
Yesterday he was staying with his friend, a disabled elderly lady. He met her when he was in one of his rehab programs. The relationship is fuzzy but she helps him a lot. He helps her. She can't get around much so he takes her places. She knows he's a junkie but she's ok with that.
An unlikely friendship however how they became friends is the interesting part. She's poor and lame and a couple of years back she broke her walker. She couldn't afford another and there was no program to help her get one. This greatly limited her freedom. She was housebound and depended upon others to help her. She was already friends with the man and he would go by and visit her sometimes. Often he was strung out or looking for money. She never had any but he still visited.
One day the man was in the dump looking for something to sell for drugs and found a discarded walker. He took it home and cleaned it up, and of course gave it to the lady. This act of kindness was typical of the man. He had a heart like this although most people couldn't see it underneath the pathetic picture he made walking the streets looking for a fix.
The man is also my ex-husband and the father of my two older daughters. This story was revealed to my older daughters yesterday and they told me. They have not had their father in their lives yet somehow knowing that this man that they love, is not a complete write-off as a human being restored a certain faith in him and in themselves, for no matter how hard we try, our identity and value is often tied up in what our parents tell us with their actions.
It also restored my faith as well, for underneath the mask of pills and booze and crack, the human being with compassion and hope still exists.
Secondary to that it reminded me, because I'm often asked, why I married him in the first place. Back then, before he was buried in the mire of self-destruction, that abundance of generosity was there, always ready to blossom. It's what made the eventual path he took so very sad.
I'm glad my daughters got to see that in him again. I'm equally glad that it's still there for him, for where there is loving kindness there is a chance for a new beginning. I hope that happens for him. He does have a new girlfriend who seems to be a positive force. And then there is the friend with the walker, who remains loyal to him no matter what his weakness, for the gift of freedom he gave her, while still locked in the chemical chains that bound him.
It's been a difficult task for me to find compassion in my heart for the man who injured the hearts of my children as he did, who left us for a chemical high, who does not truly know the wonderful people they are. But I've grown to do so. I've let go of the anger and taken the lessons I need to learn from the experience. I've tried to encourage my girls to do the same.
It is said that you greatest enemy is often your greatest teacher. Now we have learned this lesson and this time it is that humanity cannot forever mask divinity, it bursts through eventually to shine bright like a super nova and the darker the sky, the more brilliant the light when it comes.
Love thy neighbour
easy to do
love thy enemy
Find compassion for the innocent
you can of course
But compassion for the prisoner
who shows no remorse?
earns an approving nod
is a reflection of God.