Last week, a young, fragile, 26-years-ancient woman found her way to the free clinic in Kensington, seeking help with recovering her physical and mental health. Grace has been addicted for 6 long years: a fierce, relentless heroine and cocaine habit. She sat there patiently: so earnest, so sincere, so full of longing.
Grace says she has 2 weeks clean. But she just moved out of a recovery house: when one of the residents expressed a desire and intention to get high, a few of the others living there beat her up. Having thought she had found a refuge, this violence so distressed Grace that she moved out and into a basement room that she now shares with another young woman. There is no real support there, but she is hoping to get into another recovery house that she hears is better. In the meantime, Grace says, her basement-dwelling friend is less judgmental. And, she whispers, I can’t live in fear anymore. What I need is Somebody to love me.
A few days later, Nurse Practitioner Johanna tells me she heard that Grace hasn’t been home in four days. She’s out there again, lured by the promise of anesthesia for her pain, the drugs still more of a hold on her heart than that Force more Powerful, Love.
And then there was Mike, clean 50 days, but honestly, he confides, only 40 days of sobriety. Meaning, he explains, that for 10 days he was still hoping to get high; hadn’t changed his heart. What finally moved him off the streets was the confluence of fear, fatigue, and freezing temperatures. But what is keeping him off the streets, he says, a catch in his voice, is Love. The people in the recovery community who have embraced him are tying him to sobriety by the sheer bonds of their love for him. He is awed. He is grateful. He is sober.
To paraphrase the poet Rilke, perhaps everything terrible is simply something needing our love. Who knows if Mike will make it? And who knows whether Grace might yet come in from the cold, find the Love that is needed to keep her from drifting back into her numbed universe? But what Mike and Grace both know, and all of us need to understand, is that the only thing that will save them, and us, is Love. Only Love.
Only the generative, infinite, transformative power of truly unconditional Love. Grace and Mike have a good idea of what that would look like in their lives. And you?