Amos is not his real name. What’s real is his despair. And now his hope.
We don’t get well because we should. We don’t get well because we have resources. First we have to uncover a sliver of belief that our lives are worth living at all. Then we can start getting well.
Amos has been coming to the house for only about two weeks now. The weight of issues he carries seem perfectly symbolized by the enormous backpacks he totes everywhere that look to outweigh him by several pounds each. Abandonment, sickness, addiction, mental illness, homelessness, cyclical poverty and trauma upon trauma have driven him to the far edge of a despair almost unimaginable. He’s twenty-seven.
“If you asked me a month ago if I cared at all about walking down that street and dying, I would have told you ‘no.’ I didn’t give a damn one way or the other about that.” These are his comments at a recent support group at Higher Ground. “Around here I’ve met some good people, people trying to get better; now I want to get better. For real, for the first time in my life I’ve got goals. Seriously. Goals.” Amos paused. In this group, we don’t speak until we know the current speaker is finished. After a minute, he continued: “I’ve also never felt so close to something… spiritual in my life as I have in the last two weeks.”
It’s astonishing to witness such an epiphany but maybe more astonishing is how actually uncommon such revelations can be. Day-in and day-out THP works to provide sustainable access to care for people from all walks of life, and this support takes a thousand forms — food, shelter, counseling, medications, education, etc. But before any of these life-saving devices have any meaning at all, our lives have to have meaning, even the least glimpse. We need to be recognized, we need to see some sort of light, we need hope and honesty and value. If we’re going to ever get well, we need to know one thing is possible: Love.
That’s what a little house is for. At the bottom of things, that’s what THP is for. If you’re reading this, it’s what you’re for, too. Ask Amos.
by Mark Cassity, Director of Higher Ground/Interim Executive Director