Being good…

“You’re a good man,” says John as I pass by.

“I’m okay,” I say without hint of irony or self-mockery.

Moments earlier I had been talking with one of the “homies” who had been booted that morning.

“The young man just kicked me in the foot and yelled” he said.

I listened to his complaint as I do others every day. I cannot make their situation much better, but I can listen. I do promise to bring up how they men are awakened every morning. I have been kicked awake before. Unlike my bro here I do not tend to jump up and start yelling. Instead I have groaned, looked up and with a mere look suggesting that the person’s foot might next find a new destination at my bidding.

Later, one of the guys in charge starts remarking tersely “well ole Mac now has responsibility for Mr. X (names is withheld for privacy purposes)!” And off he goes to the races about the guy, supposedly for my benefit.

“It doesn’t matter,” I say calmly. “It is a simple matter. I will bring up how we wake up all the guys. If it applies to someone it applies, if not, no big deal. Just no one should be awakened with a kick no matter how light. It’s a respect issue.”

The guy questioning the other guy has been called into question by other guys…and ad infinitum it goes…

So the only real way of functioning is to always hold to what is best for people or for their good. That means far more than anyone’s opinion, especially mine. That’s the only true North in this endless sea of words, justifications, accusations, denials and petty bullshit. It’s how I stay sane and sober at the same time.

I let the guy go on. Finally one of my other roommates in the dorm says “You might wanna listen to Mac. He has a calming effect on the men. I have seen it more than once.”

It’s true. They sense I mean them well and see them as made in God’s image. If they don’t recognize it does not make it any less true.

Mr. X downstairs had wanted to unload his burden. I chose to let him. Then I said “It is a shame really. Don’t we all – all of us here – have quite enough on our plates without adding to the weight of others?”

Mr. X smiles. “I like that Mac,” he said warmly. I wished him God’s irrational peace.Then John, who has watched it all quietly,  said I am a good man.

I am not a good man in many ways and I am in others. Thus I think I am just okay. Yesterday was Christmas and I was sick all day. It was okay too.  I slept a lot and prayed a bit. I am glad the holidays are over.

Of course I thought of Adam, Camille and Lori at my parents house for Xmas. That made me happy (envy is not one of my sins). As for me, I have to have faith that next year I will be with them. You do not turn an ocean liner around on a dime. It takes time. I am putting in the time now…like yesterday laying on a cheap bed in the sober dark.

I realized I had not spoken with Jesus much lately. I apologized. “You get eclipsed by program and other people’s bullshit” I said (like He has never heard that one before). “I’ll do a proper celebration in April when You were really born.” I did not sense His laughing at this. Guess He has heard that one a few too many times.

I am not a good man, but I know the one Good Man. Better still, He knows me.


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