Two days ago I was leaving a meeting with a brother from the fellowship, Al. He waved to a guy he knew who passed us on the street. The other guy raised a finger as if asking us to wait and he pulled over, as did I. I was introduced to Andrew and they carried on a brief conversation, catching up. It turns out that Andrew is sober six years but doesn't make a lot of meetings anymore. As they talked Andrew mentioned something about having a house for rent. I expressed interest, got his number and called him the next day. It was a chance meeting, perhaps a God thing, I thought.
I arranged to meet him there yesterday to check it out. He had told me a few things about the place, that it needed some TLC and that it may be a good fit being on a tight budget as I am. He told me his friend Ed had been staying there. Ed was an old friend of the family who had been homeless and suicidal. Andrew was trying to help Ed by letting him stay there. Ed has access to the house but he chooses to sleep on the porch. Andrew said "He likes to drink a few beers or smoke a little weed now and then but he wouldn't bother anyone." hmmmm
I met Ed who lives on the porch, this was an experience. He was sitting there bundled up, smiling and happy. I shook his hand and we exchanged greetings, he was pleasant and personable. As Andrew led me into the house I was quite surprised. There was a table and an easel in the room, both covered with sketches and drawings - Ed is an artist, quite talented at that.
I was confused. Suddenly I didn't believe this was all about me finding a new place to live. It seems that what I was finding was a new perspective.
I completed my walk through of the house. I like the location but it will require more time and work than I am able to dedicate to it just to make it ready to live in. I stopped and talked to Ed on the way out. I complimented him on his art and suggested he keep it up. He was quite humble about it. He said that he enjoys it but sometimes he enjoys his beer too much. He also said that it was the one thing that he has. I said it comes from within him and it's beautiful, again saying to keep at it.
As I went to sleep I was thinking about Ed. Remembering his sleeping bag on the porch, his artwork in the house, the smile on his face and the personality in his voice. Although I do not think I will be living there, I feel drawn to go back and see him. I know next to nothing about him aside from that there is little difference between him and me. I know in my heart that if I had not been willing to change, to let God change me, I could easily be sitting there on that porch or much worse.
All of this gives me pause to be grateful for all that I have as well as for all that I have lost. I am thankful to God for all that I am and all that I no longer am. I have a job and a roof over my head, my health, my kids, my art and a support network that is incredible. If I choose to, I can pick up a drink and join Ed there in an instant - it would not take long.
Also I learned that Andrew's 44 year old brother is in the hospital in the end stages of liver failure. He was going to visit him the day I met him. He was a 24x7 drinker for a long time until the end. The day he never thought could come is near. Should I choose to pick up again, this too could be me in a short period of time.