May 5, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

Over the course of the past eight days, someone has broken five different windows at Hope. Someone threw one rock through one window last Monday evening. Someone (or someones) threw three rocks through three windows last Thursday night. Someone threw a rock through a window last night. Three nights. Five windows. No explanation. No rhyme. No reason.

I am heartbroken and pissed off, a dangerous combination for me and those around me. Many of you have heard me speak of Hope as holy ground, a space where the miracle of recovery can take place. Hope, like a church, is not made out of different physical substance than the rest of creation. Throw a big rock with enough force and the window will shatter. But so will dreams that this place is different, that this window lets sun shine into a mystical and magical area, that somehow we’ve got protection against ugly violence.

That’s the heartbreak, but the anger is right behind it. When the person who did this is caught, and he or she will be caught, I’d like to be given five minutes alone with them, not to physically punish them—although that’s certainly appealing—but to make them feel shame, true moral shame. While most of you know me as an upbeat, hopeful man who tries to spread joy, I do have a powerful dark side that can find joy in making folks suffer, twist in the wind, and suffer more, simply by holding their behavior in front of them. This is not a side I particularly like, but it is a power I’ve used effectively.

Each window replacement costs more than a thousand dollars, and all of us can think of better things to do with $5,000 than replace broken windows. Money is important,  but it’s not the most important issue here. Money can be raised or found somehow. Trust, though, trust in our neighbors, trust in our members, trust in Hope’s value, can’t simply be raised or found, and once it’s gone, rebuilding it takes way more energy than its destruction did.

I choose to believe these broken windows are the result of random vandalism, some 14-year-old kid discovering destructive power and the mesmerizing sound of breaking glass. At one point, I was that kid, using a pellet gun to wage commando raids on streetlights throughout my town. I believe the statute of limitations has long since passed, so I will confess I enjoyed shooting out those lights with no thought about any consequences from my destruction. I was wrong and I’m sorry. If I’m right that this vandalism is random teenage destruction, I hope the vandal will be caught and held accountable.

I’m not naïve, though. These five windows could have been broken by a friend or associate of someone who lives in our building or even by a disgruntled Hope member. If it’s the latter, someone who feels Hope or I have somehow betrayed them or done them wrong, please ask them to stop and instead reach out to me to let me know their concerns.

To Hope Nation as a whole: Please, please, please help us stop this madness. If you hear anything, please let us know. If you see anything, please let us know. If you know anything, please let us know. Right now, we know nothing, and that really stinks.

Please don’t let this sad news have an impact on your recovery. Soon we will gather up to six feet together, share the power of recovery and a few laughs.

After all,

You matter. I matter. We matter.


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