“I’m living in middle ground.” Micha Boyett, author, Found
AWOL [Absent WithOut Leave; didn't return by curfew]
ATL [Asked To Leave, typically due to intoxication or other serious infraction]
LWON [Left WithOut Notice. He told someone he was leaving but no exit plan was made and no staff notified.]
It’s one of the first things I look at in the morning. A night log is placed in my box every day with notations on it as to anything eventful at the Center during the night. There’s only one place I look and that’s the first section that will have names listed of men not returning.
Sometimes those words barely cause a flinch and other times it’s a sadness that settles in my heart. The reasons are different. Most times I am numb to it which is contrary to what we teach. It’s not honorable but it’s how I get through this middle ground of joy and grief.
Joy-filled monthly celebrations marking months and years of sobriety. Happy seeing the inner change become visible as the old is shed like a moth emerging as a butterfly.
It was J’s first time with us. A tall man with a gentle smile he sat near the front in my bible class. He was quiet but laughed in the right places, a silent smiling laugh. Were you to see him on the sidewalk, like most of them after a time of rest and good food, you’d be likely to think him a white-collar professional than an alcoholic. He read the scripture one week in chapel. As you’d expect, a quiet reserve.
Next to him name on the night log: LWON. How does a man I barely know cause such sadness in me? I don’t know where he’s from, if he has kids, what kind of work he does, nothing. And still, my heart sighs with knowing he’s gone. Too short a time. It’s not good. Never a good sign.
It’s that middle ground I’m straddling between joy and grief. It’s like standing on the teeter-totter trying to keep it balanced. A shift this way or that, cheers or sorrow.
It’s the same in all of life this balance of living. Living in the before, where memories comfort and the after, when hope and faith paint a better picture. Living in the now with mama is sad and ugly but living in the after, there I see her restored and whole, her mind sharp as ever and she is released to praise again.
Living in the now is today’s reality. It’s not where I prefer, at times, but it’s denial that turns away from today. Today is middle ground and I am caught there. Caught between the glossed over past and a future built on faith. Caught in a today that is bright with promise.