THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM NEVER STOPS SHINING
A Christmas Eve Phone Call Reminded Me of that Undiminished Hope
We had five services on Christmas Eve and right in the middle of them, I was told that a fellow from my past work in the Juvenile Court had called me from Louisville, KYand wanted to talk to me. He had said his name was Jesse and I immediately thought of a boy I knew well from 35 years ago.
My notion proved right on Christmas Day and I was deeply moved by why and how Jesse had found me. But first he had to catch me up on a lot of lost time. Jesse, who is pictured here as a teenager, was involved in a work therapy program I had designed where he would go to a community center and exercise either the limbs of severely brain-injured children. He was so likeable and always full of energy that too often got mischanneled. After being on probation with me for two years, he was sent to a juvenile prison and that’s where I lost contact.
From there I learned Jesse turned 18 in 1979 and entered his first adult institution, ending up spending 25 years in many Ohio facilities before finally walking away from them in 2005. While in prison, both of his parents died and two of his sisters. In 2000 he was allowed to visit his sister Debbie on her death bed and pledged to her he would quit everything he had been doing.
Jesse was released on Debbie’s birthday and has never been in trouble since. He had met a guy at a drug treatment facility in Cincinnati who started the company Gutter Magician the year he was released. He went to live with Rick’s family and has now become a manager with the company. He also met Paula, a “great woman” who has helped to completely turn his life around.
Jesse and Paula had been talking about the few positive things he could remember as a youth when my name was brought up on Christmas Eve. They got on the Internet and found me. Jesse even knew that I had become a grandfather for the first time this year. He thanked me for the memories that had nurtured him and we expressed our love for one another. It was as if the star of Bethlehem had shown down on us. The only thing he said the light wouldn’t illuminate was all the hair he used to have. And he also said mine had changed colors. He is the reason I never lose hope. We will see each other in 2012.