Thursday, June 12, 2008

For the Addict Who Still Suffers

Last weekend at the close of the 2008 Texas State Democratic Convention we were turned out into the streets of Austin after midnight. I was waiting for a bus on 4th and Rio Grand when George B. happened by and stopped to talk. He asked me to take his picture and to remember him. He said, "I probably need to go to heaven." I was moved by a sense of the tragic that weighs upon and possesses the aura of Austin's street people -- and there are so many -- but when I uploaded the picture of George B. for review and enhancement, I was stunned by the image of suffering that he portrayed.

I don't yet know what happened during the process, but the abstractions produced by my Nikon D80 that night convey more about the life of suffering of George than I could ever say with words.

That early Sunday morning, the week Obama was proclaimed the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, as I stood filled with a sense of hope for my country's future, George attempted to communicate to me his sense of failure and of powerlessness, having tried so many times to get clean and sober and to establish a life of recovery.

Together, we acknowledged the freedom he claims to enjoy, if not from addiction, at least from the work-a-day world of responsibilities under which most Americans of the middle and working classes struggle to make ends meet all the while feeling encumbered by worsening economic conditions.

This one is for you, George B., and for all the addicts and alcoholics who continue to suffer -- those dying in the streets and "needing to go to heaven," and for those who continue somehow to function in a culture that provides so little sense of worth or meaning. May the Kingdom of God open its gates to all of us who belong within Its Realm and who pray that the Light of Compassion and Wisdom will lead us to His Promises.

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