Saturday, December 18, 2010

Climb Every Mountain

On my 35th birthday my brother, who was a mere 32 at the time, looked at me and asked, "How does it feel to be at the top of the mountain looking down?"  I returned the favor and asked him the same thing when he had scaled to the top of his mountain and it has become something of a joke between us ever since.

Based on his math, neither of us are halfway down our mountains yet, but I am grateful to say that we are still descending.  I am particularly grateful that he is still on his mountain!  While descending down his mountain, he took a detour and descended into the hell of crack and dragged his family, especially our parents, into that hell with him.  I am grateful they are both witnessing his ascent from that horrible hell and are able to see him getting his life back on track.  Make that, we are all witnessing miracle after miracle as we see God's hand guiding him as he grows into a transformed man living the life he should have been living all along.  A life making the most of the gifts and graces God endowed him with...and God gave my brother boatloads of intelligence and ability!

Thankfully my brother is very open about his story in the hopes of helping anybody it can help.  I break no confidences in sharing that he suffered a string of losses and bad breaks, then found himself in the "right" place at the "right" time surrounded by the "right" people who wanted to ease his pain.  All those "rights" definitely equaled one big bad wrong.  That first hit of crack lived up to its reputation and then some!  It took away the pain and he felt better than he had in a long time!  He has lived to tell about the other side.  The part all those "right" people failed to mention: you NEVER get that feeling back again, no matter HOW much crack you go through.  NEVER!  You'll sell everything you own and throw away every relationship and steal from anyone you can and take, take, take, ALL for just one more attempt to get that first high back...and you'll NEVER get it!  You'll lose your real friends, family will fall to the wayside, you won't be able to keep a job, you'll lose your house and your possessions, you'll lose your self-respect.  You'll find yourself in places, with people, doing things, you never ever dreamed YOU'D be doing in your worst nightmares.

Those nightmares become your reality.  Your life becomes insignificant and the property of your supplier(s); sleep gives way to always keeping one eye open; the idea of "trust" becomes a lie as nothing and no one can be trusted for good.  You find yourself living in the seamiest conditions among the dregs of society and wonder how you got there.  My brother never planned on this.  Little girls and boys never dream of one day becoming a crack addict.  This wasn't the future our parents envisioned for him when they brought his newborn self home from the hospital.  The journey from hospital nursery to crack took 40 some years, but it happened.  And yet....

God kept his hand on my brother.  Even though he went down into the pit and should never have escaped; there were many times he knew he was as good as dead, he is becoming the "preacher" and wise man among his rehab group.  He's actually the graduate of a court-ordered 18 month tremendous rehab program in the mountains.  He has a job that utilizes his woodworking skills and is working full time!  He's getting his life on track and he now knows, without a doubt, WHO is responsible for all the blessings he is experiencing.  He's coming home for Christmas and I'm looking forward to seeing him and hearing more of his story.

He's also a musician who writes his own lyrics and tunes.  He's got one heck of a musical on his hands.

Age-wise he may be descending his mountain.  Life-wise he is climbing one.

And I am grateful.