As a social worker you essentially get paid to give advice. As an extremely anxious human being who happens to be a social worker I’m often afraid to give advice. So instead of advice I usually tell my clients stories and hope somewhere in those stories they find some nugget of enlightenment that helps them along the way.
One client (lets call him Ken), who as a result of his struggles with opioid addiction was living in the homeless shelter I oversaw, once asked me if I thought it was possible to change so late in life? As the uber optimist I told him “absolutely. It’s never too late to make a change.” However, since that conversation I’ve sometimes wondered if I was telling him the truth. I must say that when considering his years of imprisonment, rehab stints, and length of stay in local homeless shelters I did think maybe he was one that would never get his “act together.”
While packing for our family vacation I was listening to music and Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” came on. I have always loved this song for the truth it speaks. They lyrics speak of struggle, self-realization, and most importantly “redemption.” I began to wonder if someone like Ken would ever have his redemption song. Would Ken always be confined to a life of addiction and struggle?
I replayed the song three or four times and sat down to just listen and reflect. I thought about Easter and Christ’s resurrection and what this meant for humanity. We no longer would have to fear the future. Oppression, injustice, violence, hurt, and loss would no longer have the same power they once had. Christ had completed the ultimate redemption for humanity.
I’m not sure if Ken will ever have his redemption. Sure, Ken has all the opportunities available to “turn his life around” but in all honesty I’m not sure that will happen. Yet, I can’t forget about Ken and his struggle. Easter signifies the start of hope, the beginning of a revolutionary change that interrupts how we relate to the world and each other. Ken may not have heard his redemption song but that does not mean that the tune is not on his playlist.
As Christ ushered in a new paradigm for social and spiritual reality not everyone instantly experienced a complete change in consciousness. If I could go back and speak with Ken (I have since moved on from my job in the shelter and thus have not had contact with Ken in almost a year) I would tell him the truth. I would tell Ken that maybe he is too old to change. I would tell him that maybe he has to keep waiting. However, I would tell him that just as Easter can show us, your redemption song could be played. We just can’t always be sure of when.