This past Sunday evening my wife, Mackenzie, had a conversation with one of the Cross and Crown “fathers” that has been coming since day 1. We see him every Sunday for meal and worship, Monday for AA meeting, Tuesday for Bible study and sometimes on Wednesday, just to check in with us.
He is an alcoholic and has been since he was a teenager, having his first alcohol at the age of 12. He grew up in a small Oklahoma town and now lives on the streets of OKC, literally. He has a handful of places he sleeps at on a night to night bases and time to time is able to score the floor of a laundry room when it gets too cold. He is a loner but periodically will buddy up with someone else from the streets, mostly as form of protection and friendship. We have no idea how he is still alive. His body is brittle from the abuse, both physical and substance, he has endured over the years.
He is one of the kindest, most gentle, soft-hearted men I have ever known. He is funny and you can’t have a conversation with him without him intentionally jabbing your feet with his cane. Every time he does it he thinks it’s the funniest thing ever and he can’t contain his laughter, which makes it that much funnier.
Sunday, following our meal and worship, one of his traveling buddies told Mackenzie to be praying for our friend, Steven (it’s just easier to tell a story when people have names…so, like it or not, his name is Steven). He went on to tell her that Steven had been taken to the hospital and was experiencing some other issues, which he didn’t go on to explain entirely. Based on our history with Steven we assumed he had either been beat up or was sick from dealing with the cold and harsh environment.
After some investigation and asking around Mackenzie discovered that Steven had been taken to the hospital because he had a seizure. He had a seizure because he tried to not drink for a day…
Some of Steven’s family, who he doesn’t speak to regularly, located and contacted him. He expressed an interest in spending Thanksgiving with them and so they made a deal with him. The deal was this…be sober and come to the family Thanksgiving meal.
His body couldn’t handle it. To be honest, I was surprised he tried not to drink for a day. That’s how absolutely trapped he is by alcohol. His life is a struggle and his struggle is his life. His body craves it and when he doesn’t feed those cravings, his body responds by shutting down.
Needless to say, Mackenzie was heart-broken to hear about Steven and his predicament. The worst part being that she, as well as anyone else that knew about Steven’s situation, had very little ability to influence his situation in a positive way. It’s one of those scenarios when you say, “Wow, that’s sad”, and then you can’t do anything about it. The good news is that we saw and talked to Steven when he came to Bible study today. He was in good spirits and was back to his regular joking self. I wish I could end the story on a positive note but the bad news is he probably won’t be attending the family Thanksgiving, as far as I know. Maybe his family will decide to let him still come, or maybe just to eat, or maybe they will visit him instead of him going to them. I don’t know. I guess all I can do is to ask you to consider this story, think about that person you know that may not have a family to spend Thanksgiving with this year and ask them to be apart of yours.