Friday night at our team meeting, we were talking about the circuit riders who used to travel around to all their different charges, leading worship, preaching the Gospel and bringing God's love where ever it was needed. I felt a little like that today. It was not my Sunday to officially be in charge of anything, but in team ministry, "official" and a buck will get you an ice cream bar. So since the priest was running late, I folded and stuffed the bulletins, changed the hymnboard and coached the newish alter guilder as she set up the altar. The lector had to cancel, so that was pinch-hit. After church another member and I took off to deliver Communion to the farthest flung homebound member of our parish forty miles away. Never able to just feast and run, we had to hear all about the kids, grand kids and such. On the way back into town there was a stop needed at the big box. Somehow L managed to get himself arrested wearing one contact. Though he seems to think it's ok to just live that way indefinitely, I had some concerns, so I talked to the jailer, and they said if everything was new and sealed, he could have his other one, a case and solution. So that was the stop, and then a drop at the jail of those items. At 3:30 I rolled into the driveway, the whole rest of Sunday at my feet. Nap? Read? Blog? Or do all the chores that I didn't do yesterday?
Yesterday! Yeah, that was a hard one. I knew that when...yes when....even my little Pollyanna self knew somewhere inside that the odds of a forever success were slim....he went back, it would upset me, I was not really prepared for quite how much my heart would hurt. He made it seven and a half months. That is the longest he has not been incarcerated since he was fourteen. He will be twenty on August 14. He said he felt bad that he didn't make to his birthday...he would liked to have known what it was like to have one "outside." Oh, he said so many things that made me want to just break down and sob....or whup him upside the head....sometimes all in the same breath! Like that he thought he was "destined" for a life in prison. I'm afraid I ...er...got a little up in his face about that one. He talked about how it felt like he had never left...I reminded him that some pretty important things had happened in the in-between and that I hoped he could remember that he had left and that he was a different person in some ways as he came back. He told me that he had told his room mate not to call me, that he didn't want me to see him there. But also that he knew S would call....and that I would come. He says he doesn't want anyone to come see him or think about him from the outside....I said "Too bad. They will anyway because they care about you." He told me while he was out sometimes he would ride his bike over by the church and just sit there on the grass. He gave me more of a sense of just how hard it was to be out than he ever let me see when it was happening. We cried and we prayed. Then I left and cried some more. His room mate is struggling, too. He was pretty mad a L for "bringing this all on himself" but he was also scared of the disaster he saw occurring in front of him. He feels guilty, as if there were something he could have, should have done to stop it. He seems to need to talk to me a lot right now, too. Another outpost for the circuit rider.
I talked to C yesterday in the midst of it all, and she was a great help and comfort . One of the things she said stays with me....that when we stand by powerlessly as those we love suffer and fall and experience that helpless, loving heartbreak we can get for a moment a sense of what God feels for us. I have had a lot of feelings toward God in my life, awe, wonder, love, fear....but this is the first time I think I have ever felt empathy for my creator.
His hearing is tomorrow. We may know something after that....or not. This is the system after all. I have learned to count only on not counting on anything. Time, I guess, will tell. In the meantime, he has his contacts, and a whole lot of prayers. And for now, that will have to do.