Last night, in Mobile, a man was shot. It tends to happen all too often, 20 or so murders already in Mobile County in 2011. Most of the time the story gives me quick pause, but I quickly move on. I hadn't even heard last night's story, it didn't cross my two local news apps this morning. Instead, I returned from lunch and K, our parish secretary, told me that TKT needed me to look something up on the internet while he drove to preach in Greenville, AL.
So, I called Keith and he told me about a news story he heard while falling asleep last night. It was about a man who had been assaulted in downtown Mobile and his name was WW. "I wonder if it is our WW," he said, "and if so, I doubt anybody will be able to pay for his cremation or anything."
The three of us who hang out at 506 North Pine Street everyday know a WW pretty well. I don't know if the WW we know is the same WW who died last night, but my guess is the chances are pretty good. Our WW is one of our regulars. We've all heard his whole life story: his Father was a jerk, he never had a chance, and if he did, he didn't take it. WW drove broken down cars, lived in broken down apartments, and lived a broken down life. Thanks to a pretty terrible childhood, mental illness, and (I'm guessing) some recreational drug use, WW was really, really stuck.
Stuck feeling sorry for himself. Stuck in a go nowhere existence. Stuck driving a 90 mile loop from Mobile to Pensacola, stopping at churches, sharing his story, and asking for help. Whether the man who died last night was our WW or another, it is a sad story, but it is even sadder, for me, if it our WW because he never allowed himself the chance to get unstuck. He lived as a lone ranger, isolated by the voices of sadness bouncing around his head.
It would have been easy for the disciples to wallow in their self-pity after Jesus died - to close themselves off completely, even from each other, but they didn't. The group huddled together in that upper room. Cleopas walked to Emmaus with somebody else. They, at the very least, stayed in community, and so, when Jesus appeared, they weren't stuck with the voices in their head, but were able to corroborate with the person standing next to them.
I pray that the WW shot and killed last night wasn't our WW. I pray that our WW is alive and that someday he'll be able to realize his potential as a beloved child of God. I pray for all of those souls, lost in their own minds, who today find themselves, really, really, stuck.