On one of my most recent walks, very early in the morning, I passed a group of guys whom I chose not to make eye-contact until one got my attention by saying, “Are you alright?” That’s street slang for, “If you don’t have any drugs, I’m holding or can direct you to the person who is holding. What do you need?” And in street language I responded, “I’m cool. I’m cool.” This tells him I have whatever I need but appreciate the looking out and will see you next time. As I continued to make forward movement because this is what you do when you’re walking in the midst of, let’s admit it, “thugs”, one of which says, “Uncle Roy” and begins to wrap me in his arms. In that moment of embrace I smelt alcohol. When we separated, I saw glassy eyes and for a split moment realized what we were both experiencing in the thirty plus of his life, we’d done something uncharacteristically, his fueled by a substance. My next response to him was to ask why he was, “out there”. His reasoning is not important because there could never be a viable reason, so I lovingly tapped him on the chest saying, “Keep it straight”, which means in street lingo, “I know what you are doing but you don’t need to do it. Get away when you can.”
I received an education, that night, in the beginning of my street ministry to others, especially when it is family involved. I should have pulled him to the side and offered to walk away with him, giving him the encouragement and strength of not having to do this alone. I have often thought about those times when I was, “out there” what if someone I knew extended their hand to lift me from my mess, would I have taken it? It happened once and I wasn’t ready. I think this will be the case often, but it teaches me, that moment with my nephew, I do have a responsibility, to you, and I’ll do better next time.
Oh, I did go back later, but he was gone.
I don’t know the thoughts of a lifer, whose freedom is gone. What I do know is I’m blessed and given another chance, not to do wrong.