The Eleventh Hour
My friend Bob used to work as a cleaner for (furnished) university apartments. One day, after a tenant left for “medical reasons,” Bob was sent in to clean up, particularly the couch – one arm of the couch was completely, extraordinarily drenched in blood. The blood had settled deep into the material, but Bob set about pulling it up with the extractor … over and over and over again, for hours.
He said that the experience filled him with great hope. As you might imagine, I asked him why.
He explained that the “medical reasons” were that the tenant had tried to commit suicide. He had entered a hole of darkness and despair, alone in his living room with seemingly insurmountable pain, and he had slashed his wrists. But in truly the eleventh hour, when so much blood had come out of him that it was a wonder he was still breathing, he decided he wanted to live. He called 911. He pressed his wrists into the arm of the couch to stop the bleeding. He waited with all of his weight pressed onto his arms and onto the arm of the couch, until paramedics came and saved him.
Bob saw hope not just because the man lived; he saw hope because the man decided to live – that in the darkest moment, when all seemed desolate and pointless, he found a light to follow. Bob saw the hope there, the second chance, the course correction. He saw the struggle to climb out of despair, the success achieved when failure seemed certain. He saw this amidst all that blood, and it gave him hope that the challenges and obstacles we face are surmountable, no matter how bleak they may seem.
And he kept pulling up the blood with the extractor, until the water ran clear.