If the Happy New Year is already shaping up to be an even worse version of the last one, read on…
I know a couple who is walking the hard road with an adult son who was arrested and is serving an indefinite incarceration.
I don’t know all the details, nor do I want to need to know them. They don’t matter, despite this rubber-neck world we live in.
And I can’t judge his circumstance because with a just a couple of different life choices I could have been the one. A bad decision. A bad friend. A lifetime of consequence. It could have been me. It should have been me.
What I do know is this man is in a cell with no outdoor privileges, no exercise, and not even a ray of sunshine –a seemingly bleak existence.
As heard his story, I thought about what it would be like to have all of my vices, all of my excuses taken away. I am surrounded by friends and family, with a thousand different inputs feeding my brain and nudging me in one direction or another.
What would it be like if all of that was stripped away? What would life be like with just me and God, talking?
Addictions steal the joy of life
If you are around addicts, the sharpness of the senses and accompanying emotions dull over time. Joy and hope and pleasure are slowly blurred. Life becomes one big struggle
According to his mother, even simple happiness and peace were elusive.
While no parent wants to see their child suffer like this, his mom recently received some amazing news from her son.
No, there hasn’t been a commutation or a parole or an early release. For the time being, he is still in his simple cell.
But he has recovered his memory of hope, the fond embrace of simple joy.
“I’m alive!” he wrote in a Christmas letter.
He is embracing simple pleasures like a video conversation with his son, cookies from the mess hall, and warm tube socks. He even marveled at the taste of a mint, something he hadn’t tasted in more than a year.
Some of this is physiological. His addictions are not being fed which helps bring clarity to reality.
Some of this is spiritual, a recovery of what was once lost and is now found.
He writes, “My brain reminds me now of all the simple moments that really are what made life right — not necessarily super happy or amazing, but right and good and worth the journey.”
His memories of simple blessings have unleashed a torrent of thankfulness. His time of isolation and clarity has sparked his memory of past hope.
“In fact my memory of them was such an awakening after such a long absence of that feeling. It gave me a seed of hope, this recollection of goodness … I had forgotten that life was OK ever…. and that it can be again. I guess we could say I had the memory of hope.”
According to his mother, “He is experiencing an awakening of memory and of moments where life was good and worth living.”
Do not despair
If you are imprisoned by circumstances this year, do not despair.
Maybe your situation is at the hand of another. A spouse who walked out on you. A friend who betrayed you. A sickness that has robbed you of mobility.
Or maybe your present situation is your own fault – I get it. I’ve been there, ruining relationships, friendships and workplaces because of my stupid self.
Regardless of how you got there, embrace the memory of hope. Remember what life was like before it got so complicated.
Marvel in the senses of all that God continues to give. Smell the crisp morning air, taking it in deeply. Enjoy a small treat, taking small bites, embracing the texture and the taste. Read a Psalm of joy, verse by verse, word by word.
Notice the little things – the bird that hops on the branch, looking at you, hoping for a nod of recognition. The baby that blows a bubble from his lips, lost in his own world of wonder.
As long as there is a new day, there is hope.
Thank you God for all my blessings past. Thank you God for a future. Thank you – despite these crummy circumstances – for the memory of hope.