The Story Behind One Of My Favorite Organization:

by jamie tworkowski

Pedro the Lion is loud in the speakers, and the city waits just outside our open windows. She sits and sings, legs crossed in the passenger seat, her pretty voice hiding in the volume. Music is a safe place and Pedro is her favorite. It hits me that she won't see this skyline for several weeks, and we will be without her. I lean forward, knowing this will be written, and I ask what she'd say if her story had an audience. She smiles. "Tell them to look up. Tell them to remember the stars."

I would rather write her a song, because songs don't wait to resolve, and because songs mean so much to her. Stories wait for endings, but songs are brave things bold enough to sing when all they know is darkness. These words, like most words, will be written next to midnight, between hurricane and harbor, as both claim to save her.

Renee is 19. When I meet her, cocaine is fresh in her system. She hasn't slept in 36 hours and she won't for another 24. It is a familiar blur of coke, pot, pills and alcohol. She has agreed to meet us, to listen and to let us pray. We ask Renee to come with us, to leave this broken night. She says she'll go to rehab tomorrow, but she isn't ready now. It is too great a change. We pray and say goodbye and it is hard to leave without her.

She has known such great pain; haunted dreams as a child, the near-constant presence of evil ever since. She has felt the touch of awful naked men, battled depression and addiction, and attempted suicide. Her arms remember razor blades, fifty scars that speak of self-inflicted wounds. Six hours after I meet her, she is feeling trapped, two groups of "friends" offering opposite ideas. Everyone is asleep. The sun is rising. She drinks long from a bottle of liquor, takes a razor blade from the table and locks herself in the bathroom. She cuts herself, using the blade to write "FUCK UP" large across her left forearm.

The nurse at the treatment center finds the wound several hours later. The center has no detox, names her too great a risk, and does not accept her. For the next five days, she is ours to love. We become her hospital and the possibility of healing fills our living room with life. It is unspoken and there are only a few of us, but we will be her church, the body of Christ coming alive to meet her needs, to write love on her arms.

She is full of contrast, more alive and closer to death than anyone I've known, like a Johnny Cash song or some theatre star. She owns attitude and humor beyond her 19 years, and when she tells me her story, she is humble and quiet and kind, shaped by the pain of a hundred lifetimes. I sit privileged but breaking as she shares. Her life has been so dark yet there is some soft hope in her words, and on consecutive evenings, I watch the prettiest girls in the room tell her that she's beautiful. I think it's God reminding her.

I've never walked this road, but I decide that if we're going to run a five-day rehab, it is going to be the coolest in the country. It is going to be rock and roll. We start with the basics; lots of fun, too much Starbucks and way too many cigarettes.

Thursday night she is in the balcony for Band Marino, Orlando's finest. They are indie-folk-fabulous, a movement disguised as a circus. She loves them and she smiles when I point out the A&R man from Atlantic Europe, in town from London just to catch this show.

She is in good seats when the Magic beat the Sonics the next night, screaming like a lifelong fan with every Dwight Howard dunk. On the way home, we stop for more coffee and books, Blue Like Jazz and (Anne Lamott's) Travelling Mercies.

On Saturday, the Taste of Chaos tour is in town and I'm not even sure we can get in, but doors do open and minutes after parking, we are on stage for Thrice, one of her favorite bands. She stands ten feet from the drummer, smiling constantly. It is a bright moment there in the music, as light and rain collide above the stage. It feels like healing. It is certainly hope.

Sunday night is church and many gather after the service to pray for Renee, this her last night before entering rehab. Some are strangers but all are friends tonight. The prayers move from broken to bold, all encouraging. We're talking to God but I think as much, we're talking to her, telling her she's loved, saying she does not go alone. One among us knows her best. Ryan sits in the corner strumming an acoustic guitar, singing songs she's inspired.

After church our house fills with friends, there for a few more moments before goodbye. Everyone has some gift for her, some note or hug or piece of encouragement. She pulls me aside and tells me she would like to give me something. I smile surprised, wondering what it could be. We walk through the crowded living room, to the garage and her stuff.

She hands me her last razor blade, tells me it is the one she used to cut her arm and her last lines of cocaine five nights before. She's had it with her ever since, shares that tonight will be the hardest night and she shouldn't have it. I hold it carefully, thank her and know instantly that this moment, this gift, will stay with me. It hits me to wonder if this great feeling is what Christ knows when we surrender our broken hearts, when we trade death for life.

As we arrive at the treatment center, she finishes: "The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope."

I have watched life come back to her, and it has been a privilege. When our time with her began, someone suggested shifts but that is the language of business. Love is something better. I have been challenged and changed, reminded that love is that simple answer to so many of our hardest questions. Don Miller says we're called to hold our hands against the wounds of a broken world, to stop the bleeding. I agree so greatly.

We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive. I might be simple but more and more, I believe God works in love, speaks in love, is revealed in our love. I have seen that this week and honestly, it has been simple: Take a broken girl, treat her like a famous princess, give her the best seats in the house. Buy her coffee and cigarettes for the coming down, books and bathroom things for the days ahead. Tell her something true when all she's known are lies. Tell her God loves her. Tell her about forgiveness, the possibility of freedom, tell her she was made to dance in white dresses. All these things are true.

We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home.

I have learned so much in one week with one brave girl. She is alive now, in the patience and safety of rehab, covered in marks of madness but choosing to believe that God makes things new, that He meant hope and healing in the stars. She would ask you to remember.





I'm Back, For Good.

Hey ya’ll, I have decided to stick to blogger. I did have a xanga account but I deleted it after I figured out it wasn’t what I’m looking for. I have also decided to change the name of my blog from “P.S. The Secret of the World is…” to “So Long Self”, with a subtitle of “It Has Been Fun but I Have Found Somebody Else.” I have always wanted to name my blog So Long Self, but instead choice “P.S. The Secret of the World is…” I got the name from a Christian band named MercyMe, from the song So Long Self. The band explains the song as a break up with yourself, yeah I know it sounds strange but, its about “getting over yourself” as I would like the say and moving on to better things. This is probably one of my all time favorite songs, and it means a lot to me in ways a lot of people wouldn’t be able to understand. I’ll post the lyrics at the end of this post. Hope you like the new page, enjoy. Also I have joined the blogged.com community and I think you should check it out, it’s a great way to get your blog out and noticed, and welcome to blogged.com who will be reviewing my blog the next couple of days. This is it for now, I’ll get back to ya’ll in a few.

So Long Self By Mercyme:

Well if I come across a little bit distant
It's just because I am
Things just seem to feel a little bit different
You understand
Believe it or not but life is not apparently
About me anyways
But I have met the One who really is worthy
So let me say

So long, self
Well, it's been fun, but I have found somebody else
So long, self
There's just no room for two
So you are gonna have to move
So long, self
Don't take this wrong but you are wrong for me, farewell
Oh well, goodbye, don't cry
So long, self

Stop right there because I know what you're thinking
But no we can't be friends
And even though I know your heart is breaking
This has to end
And come to think of it the blame for all of this
Simply falls on me
For wanting something more in life than all of this
Can't you see


Don't feel so bad (don't feel so bad)
There'll be better days (there'll be better days)
Don't go away mad (but by all means)
Just go away, go away


Farewell goodbye
Farewell goodbye
(repeat and fadeout)


"All Things Come To An End, Goodbye."

Hey ya’ll, I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in a while but I thought I would stop by and tell everyone what has been going on. This is the last week up school and we only have two more half days left. This whole last month has been crazy cramming for exams and making sure I pass all of them, and so far I have, and today I took my global studies exams which I am a little nervous about but, hopefully all will end well. I have also been working really hard to make sure I can stay at Richland northeast next year. In South Carolina you can only go to a school district you live in. I technology live in a Richland district 1 schooling zone,

 while Richland northeast is in Richland district 2 schooling zone. I want to stay at rne and finish out my last three years there, and hopefully the school board will allow me to stay, because I love it there, and that is the school for me. I am in two magnet programs, which I hope will help my chances of staying there, but I’m doing a lot of praying and hopefully all will turn out well. 

On may 31, 2009 was a really rough day for any friends/fans of a friend of mine named Theodore Mack, or as most people knew him Shawty Mack. He committed suicide by a gun to the head, nobody expected it. Anybody could tell you that he was known at the MySpace Celebrity because of his music. His rap wasn’t like others, it wasn’t about drugs, sex, violence, money, girls, etc. it was about where he wanted to be, wanted to be remembered as, and where he came from, and his music affected a lot of people. He attended AC Flora high school, but his music branched out all across Columbia, South Carolina. I had only talked to him a few times about life, and music, but when I found out what happened I couldn’t help but cry and think that it didn’t have to end like it did. His funeral is in a few days, and sadly I can’t make it because of exams but his mother, little brother, and father are in my mind, and prays. Rest in Peace Theodore Teddy Mack [March 6. 1991- May 29, 2009], you are greatly loved, and missed, I will see you real soon hunny, watch over all of us. On a lighter note, I am going to try to blog as much as I can during the summer, but I am trying to find another blogging site, any suggestions please send me an email at ShannonVieau2012@hotmail.com or simply comment the blog, ha-ha. I’m not sure if im going to keep doing the weekly post secret or playlist, I might get rid of one, and I don’t know about the monthly random list either. I will get back to ya’ll on that soon, I promise. I do have some summer goals I plan to accomplish, and here they are. Please hold them to me. (:


1.)    Go through all my files on the computer, and clean all of them up completely.

2.)    Completely clean my rooms, go through everything, and donate/sell things I don’t need anymore. Reorganize my room.

3.)    Get a job.

4.)    Get my permit.

5.)    Stay active.


Those are about it, If I think about anything more I will tell ya’ll.