One day, as I was preparing to teach a Prison Fellowship job readiness class, I noticed approximately ten men missing. Worried about these trainees, I asked the group what happened.
Steve, an intelligent, sweet-spirited young man spoke up: “The substance abuse class time changed. The new time interferes with our class.” Substance abuse is a mandatory class. There was no choice but to miss our job skills session.
He made a comment to his friend, “The ones that need it the most can’t even go yet.”
Curious and confused, I asked, “Why can’t they?”
“There are too many students. The need is so great; there is a backlog so we have been waiting,” he answered.
Wondering who still needed to take the class I inquired, “Raise your hand if you need to take this class.” Everyone raised their hands.
There was silence when Steve respectfully asked, “Can I tell you a quick story?”
I responded, “Sure. We would love to hear it.”
He took a breath, then calmly began: “On the outside, I was addicted to heroin. Heroin turned me into a different person. I would do anything, feared nothing. Heroin turned me into someone that ultimately led to crime.”
The other men, nodding and commenting, agreed with him. They understood from experience. Steve looked around the room and went on, “Before I was arrested, my mom begged me to try a new program. She planned to spend everything she had on a new procedure. She cried so much, begging…bless her heart…she loves me so much. After one last desperate conversation with her, I finally agreed.”
He reflected, “I went to the hospital, was admitted and connected to an IV where my system was completely flushed out. With the heroin gone from my body, the doctors surgically implanted a devise to diffuse the effect of heroin…if I tried to put it into my body again. After two days at the hospital I was released. I went home and stayed with my loving mom…tortured by not having heroin.”
Then pausing, looking down, he said with pain, “I only lasted two days before I took a knife, opened myself up, cut the device out and put heroin back in!”
Looking up at me, eyes welling, “The reason I tell you this story is because nothing man-made can fill the void and make us happy and whole…”
Can the finite fill the infinite?
**From the book: Opening Happiness