Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Went to Jail the Other Night

When I lived in Oxford, I had the chance to actually hold in my very own hands sketches by Raphael from the Italian Renaissance! I had special permission from my art history teacher to go behind the scenes at the Ashmolean Museum to do so...Being 20 & in love, I never made it...I have to forgive myself, but a lifetime of regret leaves me more likely to seize opportunities where I can.
I am taking a class on teaching "at-risk boys". It is really a class on teaching to gender differences. We had special permission to tour the jail & I didn't miss this chance. As instructed, I wore jeans & a t-shirt. I typically wear "witness shirts" to keep myself in check, but that night I chose one to share. It simply reads,
"Our God is an Awesome God."
The 1st thing I learned is the difference between jail & prison. Most in jail are awaiting trial, though some are there for sentences less than a year. Many have been there for years upon years. Our group was hesitant, so I took "point" most of the night. We first entered a block with some 50 women & 1, unarmed officer. Most stopped their chores or climbed from their bunks to tell us about life in they have to let go of the little stuff, because otherwise, they just make their time worse. It is a good lesson for us all. There were several who stood out to me as particularly pretty & sweet, seemingly fascinated to see a group in street clothes. Most cling to the hope of, "I'll be out real soon." One woman, who seemed to have been watching me, leaned over the end of her bunk as I passed by to leave. Blond, soft-spoken with resolved, yet lonely eyes...she made eye contact with me & simply said, "Please pray for us". I told her that I do, but now with faces, I would even more, & for her specifically.
Back in the corridor, our guide told us, "those are 'the people who you see on the news at night'. Though 'innocent until proven guilty', they are in here for murder, even of their own child"....It is the ones who are picked up for a short time who get rowdy & make dangerous mistakes in jail. Those who know they are in there for the long haul, have had to learn to adjust & accept. There are so many things I take for granted ...taking a walk outside, where & when I eat or sleep....
We are all in a prison, of sorts....a holding place, until the Lord takes us home & the party begins. "Why does God cause bad things to happen?" He doesn't. He wants nothing more than to give me the delights of my heart...For, I am His adopted child & heir to His Kingdom...For now, however this is the domain of the Adversary...the author of confusion & strife, the great Liar. One day, I will see the other side of this tapestry we face...Now I see a jumble of unrelated threads & knots...On the other side it will all make sense & be beautiful. Just like those women, I also have to let go of the drama & make my time here easier. One day I will see a glorious tapestry on the other side...everything will make sense...I pray I won't look back upon too many missed opportunities I had to serve others & my Lord.

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