On Saturday, while burning some debris in the yard, I went to grab a stick which was near the fire but not burning. My intention was to put it in a more advantageous position. However, as I grabbed the still cool end of the stick a single burning piece of ash fell right where I placed my thumb. I quickly dropped the stick and began shaking my whole hand the way someone does when they burn themselves. For the past several days I have had a reminder of the encounter, a blister on my right thumb.
The blister is a reminder of the randomness of life. A second earlier or later and I probably wouldn’t have burned myself. In the same way, we often see the haphazard events of our lives. A moment before or after and there’s no car accident or more or fewer injuries in it. A doctor’s appointment a month or two earlier or later and a disease is detected or too far advanced to undergo treatments. A moment premature or delayed and we miss a relationship we cherish or disdain.
Whatever life brings our way there are remains that stay with us. Whether positive or negative who can tell? The most we can do is be aware, open to new experiences and cautiously protecting our souls.
Last night, at the incarcerated father class hosted in the county jail, was a long night. Partnering with the correctional facility and teaching there comes with the understanding you are working on their schedule. Class began almost an hour late due to corrections’ staff trying to get almost 400 residents in their suitable places.
Waiting, I filled the dry erase board with notes for the evening’s session. Finishing up I tried to wait patiently even buzzing the tower for an update on the students. I sat down, stood up, walked around, checked the notes on the board and kept checking my watch. A door clicked open and in walked a resident. We had never met and struck up a conversation. He was a talker! but in a good way. He told me about his sentence, his work release assignment and why he was incarcerated. We talked about his plans for when he is released. What obstacles he might face once paroled and resources that might help.
“I should be honest and tell you I’ve tried meth a few times. Friends offered it to me and I didn’t want to say no to them. Sometimes I just need someone to talk to and hang around.” I smiled, walked over to my supplies, picked up a business card and handed it to him. “If you ever need someone to talk to who can help keep you walking in the right direction just call this number and remember, make good choices.” I said, looking him in the eye. The speaker in the room buzzed, his name was called and a corrections officer opened the door to take him out. I stood up, shook his hand and was thankful that occasionally these classes don’t start on time.