Deceptive as it may be, spring is officially here. As I look out my library window, a pair of geese are flying by. A bird house we have in the back yard is now home to a pair of sparrows that will soon produce offspring.
The light skiff of snow we received the morning I write this does not hide the fact that buds are in full production on all the trees, and the grass is starting to green on most south-facing lawns.
Everywhere we look is the promise of new life. This even extends to people; as the good weather increases, so does the size of the smiles on faces. Steps people take are lighter, and the sound of them carries a new feeling of determination and, in some cases, even joy. It almost seems as if a heavy weight has been lifted from everyone’s shoulders and it is a welcome thing to behold.
The other night at supper at the kitchen we served 199 meals. It was served by a group of Penhold high school students who were as excited as the people we served. They do this once a month and we love having them. I had expected about 150 to 160 people to eat, but early on we could see that it would be busy, so through careful management we were able to feed them all.
So as we served, I observed and studied all of the folks coming in. There was a joyful spirit in the room, and there seemed to be a new sense of thankfulness as well.
In my observation, I counted about 15 folks with severe addictions who in the last few weeks have made a special effort to stay clean.
Whether they succeed 100 per cent or not is not the determining factor; the fact that they are taking these steps and are winning is.
Here also we see new life; we see a character develop that we suspected was there but has not been displayed to this point. Attitudes are more open and friendly, the music being played is brighter and more cheerful, and those who have not made changes are witnessing these changes, sometimes with longing on their faces.
Coming out of a long, cold, and brutal winter, to be able to see these changes, and in some small way be part of them gives way to a feeling of relief and a justification for the time and effort spent in developing relationships and sharing in the lives of these individuals.
Although spring brings about a sense of renewal and fresh hope, there were also many signs of hopelessness.
At the devotion before the meal, the message delivered was about having a choice to make between hopefulness and hopelessness, and that is what started my observations during the meal.
For every one person who makes the effort and wins, there are several who lack the motivation and the hope required to make these changes.
Two particular individuals came under my microscope and as I reflected on them, I felt my own buoyancy start to diminish.
These two are the epitome of what the message was about.
Of the two, the young male is one who through a life of slothfulness has come to a point where not only did he choose to stay in this hole, he even changed his mindset to reflect an ignorance of life.
I know it’s not a nice term, but in my mind, I call this state being a Street Vegetable. I don’t use this term as a condemnation, but rather to describe a state of being.
The young woman in question has lost all sense of hope for several reasons: childhood sexual abuse, physical, mental and street abuse, plus now a complete addiction to crack and crystal meth.
Spring being what it is, I cannot let these two rule my thinking, but rather I will reflect with great joy those who are the overcomers. Therein lies our hope that all of them can have that same sense of renewal that is so beautifully demonstrated in this magical season we call spring.
Chris Salomons is kitchen co-ordinator for Potter’s Hands ministry in Red Deer.