Jack and Jill went up the hill to get a hit on Opioids
Jack OD and broke his crown,
and Jill tumbled soon after.

About two years ago I met Jack and his wife Jill (yes, the names have been made up, but the story is real). They seemed like a nice young couple.  Quiet and well-mannered, they told me that they were looking for employment and needed a place to stay.  At that time the retreat house was not too busy, so they stayed for a week.  The first few days were ok, but on the fourth day of their visit, when I went in to make morning coffee, the dining room was a mess.  They both denied having anything to do with it, and with such a sincere look that I believed them with some reservations.  Then that weekend, a number of guests came up and told me that things were stolen from their room.

It all pointed to the couple.  It was a nightmare.

When Jack went outside for a smoke, I unlocked his door and found some stolen items there.  When I told the wife, she started crying and seemed truly distraught that her husband would do such a thing.  Then soon after, a women came up and told me that her smartphone was lifted.  She laid it on a chair outside of her room and turned her back for a minute, and when she turned around the phone was gone.  Since the husband was outside, I knew it had to be her.

A policewoman came to see what was going on.  It turned out that both of them were stealing. We recovered all the stolen items, and they were carted off to jail.  Over the past two years, both have tried to get me to help them after they got out of jail.  I refused.  It was a very sad case.  Jack would text me over and over again, I guess trying to wear me down, but in the end, he finally stopped.

He called me last week wanting help.  Telling me that he needed new clothes for a job interview, and goodwill had good prices.  He wanted me to give him the money, which I am sure he wanted for drugs. So I said no. It was hard.

He came by today to try to get me to give him some money.  He also started talking about mind control, the NSA, and how the man who is allowing him to live in his home, is also working for the NSA.  They wanted to recruit him for something.  I tried to get him to go find help for the problem, but he refused.  So he left, without any finical help from me, and I felt down about it, yet I knew that I had made the right decision.  I have learned to listen to my gut, instead of my heart in some situations.  The gut gives me a gentle ‘no,’ while my heart wants to make everything goo, and take care of those who come here.

He seems to be slipping into mental illness, and I have no doubt that the drugs have something to do with it.  Yes, he broke his crown.  He is separated from his wife, and they both have given their kids to Jill’s mother and father to take care of.  Tragic all the way around, such a waste of two lives.

We are starting to have people come in on our monastery property and rob cars, rare, but in the past, it never happened.  I guess we may have to have cameras put in.   I have made sure that all of the doors here in the retreat house are locked at night, and during the day, we still keep them locked.  If someone wants to come in, they have to knock.   On check-in days, the doors are open, but only for a few hours.  These events are rare, but we now know that we have to on the alert.  It seems to be working, we have had no further incidents in the retreat house.

This kind of theft is nationwide I hear.  I have a nephew in prison because he is addicted to drugs.  Not a violent man at all, in fact very gentle, yet, he can’t get this monkey off of his back.  He gets out, and he is soon back in prison.  I have heard that the opioid crisis is destroying Flint, Michigan, and I wonder if the whole country or wide areas of it will become like that poor town.

With all the spam calls and emails, I am beginning to struggle with trust. A good portion of the population seems out to take money from whomever they can lie, trick, or manipulate.  I am trying not to make my heart hard, for when I have to turn someone down, even if I know I am right, there is some kind of wound to my humanity.  Becoming cynical may protect me from that, but at what price?

It is times like these when I begin to understand my need for grace, to continue to care for others, to love them and to pray for them.  I need God’s grace to help me learn what good and holy boundaries are.  Now when someone comes into the retreat house for help, I have to fight down the walls that want to go up.

Pray for me, anyone who reads this.