about blossoms in the wasteland

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. –
Isaiah 35:1

Bug Springs April 2013

Yesterday, I sat with eight young men who were living in a wasteland of drugs and rejection. They spoke of how much they hated being in this rehab center and how much they wanted to be home. Several spoke of their hatred of the staff who were in charge while the staff charged with their care wearily looked on.

We spoke of stress and challenge in a time where so much had happened in a very young life. I’m sure being in a drug rehab facility before the age of 16 was not in any of these guys’ life plan. They should be in school, home with their families, and getting ready for a few weeks off school. Instead, they are mandated to stay put and get clean.

Yesterday as we began our group, tensions boiled over between the staff and a couple of the students which erupted into a borderline physical conflict. People had to be removed and even some of the staff had to compose themselves. The stress of being in rehab going into the holiday season combined with a brutal cocktail of anger and resentment forced every negative emotion to the surface – and we were not even two minutes into the group.

As people were removed from the room we had a decision to make. Were we going to be able to to continue? What path should we choose going forward? So, I asked the guys, “ Should we move forward with group or be done?” Most of the guys were angered by the conflict and a few of them even expressed if we decided to move forward with the group- they would not be participating.

Then, the coolest thing happened. One of the newest group members looked up and said “I want to continue. I am here to get better and recover and I think this is the best way to do it.” Then, he looked across the table at another one of the students and said, “Man, let’s move past our fight earlier. I know we both said some things we regret and I know you really hurt me. Can we move on?”

Apparently there had been another conflict earlier in the day between these guys that had worked its way into the room and added to the stress. This situation was more of a wasteland than I ever knew.

But, this young man brought new life into the room by asking for forgiveness and encouraging the group to move forward. It was one of the more courageous things I have witnessed in a long time.

As Allen wrote on Wednesday, joy was chosen over anger and hate. A simple choice was made to choose forgiveness and peace over further destruction.

And as our liturgy reads, blossoms sprung up in the wasteland. Young men whose shoulders were hunched over with defeat slowly raised up and released their tension. Folded arms slowly relaxed into a more open posture.

When we choose peace, joy follows. When we choose joy, love makes its way through.

God chose to send his son into the world. Instead of destroying us for our rebellion and disobedience, he chose to make peace with us through Christ. And next week, God begins the great story of Love with the lowly birth of a coming king.

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. –
Isaiah 35:1

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