Monday, May 19, 2008


Over the last few months Dave has sporadically appeared at our Tuesday night Bible studies in the jail. Dave is one of those people who's age is difficult to guess. He could be anywhere from a beat-up 45 to an energetic 65. My best guess is somewhere right in the middle. His back and shoulders are bent from years working as a construction laborer. Dave's shoulder length white hair is combed straight back. He has piercing blue-green eyes and all of his teeth. Dave talks in fits and starts. He seems to expend great internal effort to assemble his fragmented thoughts into a coherent shape and then spits the words out machine-gun style. Then he pauses for another regrouping. A lifetime of alcoholism and drug use have wracked his body and addled his mind. Worse, Dave is sentient enough (especially after these incarcerated months of sobriety) to know that he has fried his own brain.

Dave alternates at the drop of a hat between personas: The tough life-long criminal ("This jail ain't nuthin'! I spent time in the downtown Los Angeles jail. That's a tough place!"); The holy man who mixes Christianity with Native American spirituality; The AA veteran who imparts words of wisdom to other struggling addicts; The angry victim of injustice; The burned out refugee of countless losing battles with substance abuse.

Dave prays beautiful heartfelt prayers, so I intentionally leave space at the beginning and end of our Bible studies for him to give an invocation and benediction. He never cracks a Bible during our studies, since he can barely read.

These last two weeks Dave was particularly talkative. We let him talk through most of our allotted time. He was about to be released from jail. For the first time I saw real fear in his eyes. No..., terror. Dave told us, in his halting, staccato delivery, that there is no reason why he won't exit the jail and walk 200 feet to the nearest bar and get drunk. He knows his addiction well. He knows the prescribed path before him which leads to a downward spiral of drinking, sleeping on the streets, pissing himself and dying alone. He is fatalistic and resigned. We talked a lot about hope these last two weeks. Dave at first says he has no hope, but then begins to get excited about the possibility that God might still be able to use him. "Maybe my mission", he says, "is to help other alcoholics."

Dave is out on the streets now. He was released from jail sometime in the last few days. I have no way to reach him. He is fully and completely in the hands of God and his addiction.

Please pray for Dave.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good knowing there are people like you looking out for Dave too...

7:58 PM  

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