Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I am sorry Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cory Monteith, and Heath Ledger died.  It is particularly sad when young children are left without a father.  However, I weary of reading characterizations of them as "tragic heroes."   There was nothing heroic about the choices they made, especially since they had the resources to seek the best help available.  I completely understand that addiction is a terrible monster that must be fought every day for the rest of one's life.  But let us also tell the truth about their deaths.

There are addiction heroes or, in Jasmine's case, heroine.  (Pun not intended)
If you have followed any of my or Suzy's writing, you already know Jasmine.
 She has been fighting addiction since she was 10 years old.  She has every reason in the world to be an addict, given what she has suffered.  Suzy has been a part of her life since she was 14 (almost 10 years) and I have known her for 3.  We have watched her slip in and out of drug use.  My first experience with her was heart breaking.  She had been clean about 3 months.  She was doing so well, living at Suzy's, visiting her beloved Lester Alexander regularly, and was about to enter a vocational school.  She was so excited!  Then, she was back on the streets, only to try to overcome her  addiction again and again.  I have loved her sober and strung out.   At her lowest moments she never gave up on God's promise to her.

I saw her today at the airport, there to greet the arriving visitors who know and love her.  She joyfully told me she has been clean for 1 year!   But this is not why she is my heroine.  Do you know how she spends her time?   She chooses to continue living at Misioneros de la Calle (Missionaries of the Street) where she always goes for rehab.  It is a Honduran ministry with no money but lots of faith and heart.  The facilities are horrendous.  Barely livable.  There is little food for the staff and clients.  She leads daily devotions, goes out on the street picking up addicts, she counsels other addicts and evangelizes on the street.  She attends church faithfully and has earned the position of usher. (A position of honor, for role models only.)  She is living the great commission with the least of these.  She is the hero, not a tragic hero but a victorious one.

Let's pray for Hoffman, Monteith, Ledger and all those who struggle with addiction of any type.  Then, let us raise our voices in praise and thanksgiving for the living proof of God's redemptive love and power in the life of His servant, Jasmine, my heroine!

Blessed Lord, you ministered to all who came to you: Look with compassion upon all who through addiction have lost their health and freedom. Restore to them the assurance of your unfailing mercy; remove from them the fears that beset them; strengthen them in the work of their recovery; and to those who care for them, give patient understanding and persevering love. Amen.  (BCP)