"Wow, great butt" I thought. I wasn't watching people, I was getting out of my car. And there in an Applebee's parking lot was a half an un-smoked cigarette on dry pavement. My second thought followed quickly. "Why am I noticing cigarette butts?"
Lots of Worcester Fellowship folk smoke. Not all of them, and likely not the majority. But lots do. And cigarettes are expensive. So people "borrow" cigarettes, make their own cigarettes, share boxes of cigarettes, and, if necessary, smoke the last bit of butts found unfinished on the ground.
I know, I know, smoking is bad for you. In fact to hear many speak of it, smoking is a sin. But I know many people, housed, relatively healthy, look just like you and I, who smoke so that they will not drink, or smoke so they will not do drugs. I know people who have severe anxiety and find that smoking focuses them.
I know, I know, smoking will take days off your life. The average, I've heard, is three days, but of course for the folk who get cancer of their mouth, lungs, esophagus, etc., it will likely take them in their prime: at forty or fifty or sixty.
But I gotta say this: addictions can kill you. Addictions like alcohol and street drugs also control your life before they get to the killing part. They keep you in trouble, in poverty, in pain, unable to think clearly, and unable to change your ways. They are like chains holding you in place. Nicotine is, of course, an addiction, but its chain is much smaller. And nicotine focuses your thoughts, allowing a person to stick with their aim to stay sober, to stay clean, to stay non-violent, to stay employed.
I write this story with my third cup of coffee in my hand.
(I didn't pick up the cigarette butt. No matter my views; I don't think I can hand out cigarettes at church.)