Monday, January 25, 2016
When you know the name in the news story
Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.
Today we learned of the death of a former longtime co-worker. To say that the circumstances were suspicious would be fair. To say that, to one extent or another, it was self-inflicted would probably not miss the mark very far.
But I am not going into the details, especially when the details aren't a lot more than the local news-sites. But it did open my eyes to that first statement in a way I hadn't looked at it before.
You see, this man was a study in contrasts. What we knew about him at work, what his family knew about him at home, what others knew of him from the streets, didn't always seem to paint the same picture. Would it for you? The differences were accentuated, in my opinion by the one trait I think we would have all agreed on- he was passionate. And that passion was part of everything he did. It was how he dealt his life.
And sometimes, passions can weaken us. He had his daemons, and in the end it would seem his daemons got him. But I learned one very difficult lesson in coming to terms with the life- not the loss, but the life- of my own father. And that is, in looking back, don't look at the daemons. Look at the good man fighting them.
And make no mistake, beneath the daemons, he was a good man. He loved his kids- oh, how so- that was part of the passion. He was a loyal friend, glad to lend a hand, or crack a smile. The little things that got him down, never had him down for long.
The daemons, on the other hand... well, it seems he never shook them. In my last Sunday message, I quoted the verse where David said that those who persecuted him were stronger than himself. And all of us who have daemons, we KNOW that to be true. Because they come to us when the world has spent its day shitting on us, and we try to find a place to escape, and there they are. Helping us to close it all off, to just not deal with it for a while. Thing is, when the "buzz" is gone, the problem remains, and the daemon no longer has to work so hard to get you- because he's got you. And all of the sudden you're looking over that abyss, and the only "friend" you see is the one who has already got what it wanted, and isn't all that inclined to be of help. And the only time it's ever like it was the first time, is when you commit yourself to leaving it behind for good.
I was fortunate in that Jesus became part of me. Doesn't make me perfect, or even better- but I know if I slip, I have someone still holding me up. And for all the good that was in him, it would seem our friend just didn't have that. Eventually he fell and there was no one to stop the fall.
There will be people who will see the story, see the name, and say, "Good riddance to another crazy Mexican" (not trying to be racist here, but to make a point- he was Puerto Rican, born in Philadelphia.) They'll see the story- as I did at first, and make fun of another idiot dying in his foolish misadventures. And if all we ever know is the surface, that'll be good enough, and it might give us cold comfort that "At least I never got that bad." But if you knew the person, you might stop and think about how thin the line is that you are dancing on... and hope you have that One who is greater to catch you if YOU fall.
God rest you, mi amigo. God willing, we'll see you again.