i stopped by a small clinic to help a friend who is a counselor there. he has been ill lately and i will make myself available to help in any way i can. he runs groups for parolees, most of whom have done 8 years or more inside. he sweetly refers to his guys as the ones nobody else wants. it is obvious he has a real and defined connection here.
there are about 14 guys who slowly arrive, make their nest for the hour, and settle in. there is also a sense of something else, although i’m not sure what. the respect and the love that is felt for him in here is concrete. it is a rag tag bunch of fellows. all are working, and working on staying out of the joint. 2 guys are graduating tonight, so the protocol is that they will run the meeting, starting by sharing their process and their progress with the group.
but before this takes place, my friend starts the group off by introducing himself (there are 2 new people who don’t know him). he apologizes for not being around the last month or so, but has had some stuff going on.
he continues with “here’s the deal guys. i have been diagnosed with 2 types of cancer in my abdomen. they don’t even know what kind it is. i was told i have about 6 months to live. i have started chemo to arrest these tumors in my stomach and they don’t even know if it is going to work. if it is effective, i may have 2 more years, but if it doesn’t, it falls back to the 6 month diagnosis.
naturally you could hear a pin drop. there is not a sound, nor a movement for a short while as these rugged and tender witnesses absorb what they could of the information just laid down. not a stir. it was almost like one of those science fiction films with individual cylinders keeping bodies alive, all in the same room, but each one so separate and needing its own life support.
my friend continued with the group and introductions.
this was a very spiritual happening for me. i can’t remember when i have felt quite so humble. i don’t ever think i will forget either the silence or the power in the presence of it. nothing more to be said really.
my friend is living life on life’s terms.