A gathering of what could loosely be called friends sits in an awkward, incomplete circle in the dimly lit corner of a large room, closed for business but quietly open for more meaningful transactions, on a cold, blustery autumn night.
They come individually and in pairs, cautiously, clumsily, waiting for confirmation they have been expected, welcomed, recognized, and they join the circle in what they hope, by careful selection, will be the safest of the all-risky locations, deflecting insecurity with timid chuckles and lukewarm teasing.
They come, driven by uncertain, nearly skeptical hope, from the corners of the body collective, at least the corners of this local manifestation of that many-membered conglomeration, having each borne the wounds of their individual, yet eerily common, trials and travails to arrive at this destination.
They come hoping. They bring desperation and the weak coercion by which it forces them to hope, and to stand.
They bring various flavors of the profound, crippling weakness we all bear, on the interminable verge of profound, world-changing power.
They bring the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for, the inexpressible and perpetually embattled assurance of ancient promises written indelibly in the hidden crevices of their hearts.
In weakness. In desperation. Hoping against hope.
They come in union with, but lacking conscious awareness of, innumerable companies of pilgrims joining dimly hopeful, yet persistently confident, awkward circles of desperation in small, covert spaces in every corner of every country and every community in this small world.
They bring reports of hardships suffered in dark places, and struggles and strife born in agonies which cannot be adequately uttered. They speak of brokenness and weakness, of sacrifice and steadfastness in the ever-imposing face of adversity.
They speak of hope, overcoming power, and deeply running, pure waters of life.
They recognize they are unable to meet the needs.
They recognize that in weakness and poverty, they are unable to fix the broken, persistent manifestation of pervasive depravity.
They pray. They weep. They worship, with unmerited certitude, proclaiming an unworldly confidence in a power considered too good to be true, yet thoroughly true in the nearly tangible testimonies of their own hearts.
In weakness individually, but powerful in unity, they come.
Cast down, but not destroyed.
Perplexed, but not in despair.
Having nothing, yet possessing all things.