September: Tripping on the Wire

Sometimes in Whalley the line between life and death is so faint you can’t see it until you trip over it. Life at the mission is hard some days, hilarious some days, and beautiful others. And most days all three of these facets are intertwined and come and go with the day. For me the hardest days aren’t the violent ones, they’re the sad ones. At least when our guests are violent you know they’re alive, they’re feeling things, and there’s still hope for progress and change and resurrection. They’re human beings grappling with their existence, their addiction; getting through their trauma and pain in the only way that many of them know how. When you come to work to find out that a guest has died of an overdose it’s debilitating. The world stands still for a moment. A thousand questions rush through my mind: was he alone? Are you sure it was an overdose? Does his family know? Does he have any family? I was supposed to meet with him today. I never got him into housing. I should have tried harder. Why was he outside? He said he had a cousin; do we know his cousin? He was headed in such a dark direction and we just let him go there. I should have tried harder. I should have…there’s somebody else at the door. Someone with a donation, a question, help calling their social worker, needing a pen. There’s no time to cry and no time to process the depth of the life you didn’t change. No time to make amends for the life that was lost. Where is God in this? Why didn’t he slap me in the face when I selfishly pushed that relationship aside? Why would he let this happen yet again? He is there. He is in the reminder that every interaction matters and every life has value. He is holding our hands and yet letting us make decisions. He is in the distractions. This constant faint wire between life and death shows us the gaps. It shows us where we fall short. It reveals sin so bold that it takes lives as it manifests itself in anger, pain and addiction. We often see people die and then be brought back to life by Narcan and yet they don’t really care that they’re back. That is sin. It’s deep and it’s dark and it’s hard. It creeps in when you least expect it and tries to tear apart your families. It appears to be beautiful, and pure, and fun and then it slowly drags you into the darkness. The only hope we have is in the One who created us. In the One who has overcome this pain and this hurt and who yearns to fill our lives with purpose and goodness and love. He has a plan, and it’s for our good. And when we can’t see it, and the pain is too deep, that’s when we must trust that he’s moulding us and sharpening us and preparing us for what is to come. I hate tripping over this wire so I’ll strive to open my eyes and listen for His voice to guide me through.

Psalms 39: 4-11 “Lord remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered- how fleeting my life is. You have made me no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Rescue me from my rebellion. Do not let fools mock me….each of us is but a breath.”

Written by Amber Neufeld