Walking down that particular dusty road on that particular August afternoon, Donna was done; she was too tired to go on. The tiredness she carried wasn’t just the weight of the searing heat. Deep into a South Carolina August afternoon it’s not unusual to feel tired as the heat saps one’s strength. But Donna wasn’t just tired; she was sick and tired of her life. She finally had enough.
Donna had been in and out of prison, and every time she was released she did not report to her parole officer. She just didn’t. That failure to report put her on parole violation, so another warrant was issued; and every time Donna would run until they caught her. She knew the routine. She had been on the run over two years this time. Her life was a boring cycle of using cocaine, prostituting to pay for it, going back to church with her grandmother to try to turn her life around, going back on the street to get money to get drugs to get high, then go find her grandmother..over and over.
But that August afternoon Donna hit bottom; and, there was no one but God to talk to about it. So she prayed for help; and, this time she meant it. Donna laughs now describing how God answered her desperate prayer that hot afternoon. “I was arrested again, and put back in jail. I got Tough Love!” But her prayer was being answered. In her cell all she had was a Bible, and all there was to do was ponder and pray. She was finally serious.
At her hearing Donna pled guilty because as she said, she was. Then she returned to her cell to wait for sentencing. When Donna went back to court the public defender requested time served since she had been in jail several months already. When the judge asked if she would return to her old address, before the lawyer could open her mouth, Donna jumped to her feet and spouted “No, no! I should never go back there! I’m going to live at Killingsworth!” Donna had overheard others in jail talking about a place she could/she would! turn her life around.
Although Donna had not spoken to anyone at Killingsworth, had not filled out an application, nor even knew where it was located, she was absolutely sure this was where she was supposed to be. She was equally as sure God would open that door. She was convinced her August afternoon prayer was still being answered. And it was.
Shortly after moving into Killingsworth Donna shared that she appreciated her new job in fast foods. She observed that in her former illegal entrepreneurial job she always felt shame. But in this new and very legal job she could greet people with her head up, smile, and say, Would you like fries with that? She loves her job.
Recently, Donna reflected that she had stayed at Killingsworth longer than she had stayed anywhere for years. She didn’t run this time: she is seeing her parole officer regularly. She’s been promoted at work and is proud that she has successfully completed an anger management class. The dead ground she walked that hot August afternoon has been transformed. She celebrates with gratitude that she has stayed clean for ten months and she now returns to her grandmother’s church — for services on Sunday and for the weekly Narcotics Anonymous meeting on Tuesday evenings.
Donna had wandered far into the wilderness. And yet she was repeatedly drawn back to the Rock of her grandmother’s faith. Even in her craziest times she kept returning to the place where she sensed solid grounding and promise of abundant life……walking that dry dirt road in the searing August heat she finally worked one of the Twelve Steps honestly: she made a decision to turn her will and her life over to the care of God. And to her amazement and joy, a garden of hope and possibility began to take root.