Jailed Christmas

He was convinced he would be out by Thanksgiving, but by the second week of December he was still in his blues sitting across from me at a sterile table in a room made of plate glass. He was happier than the week before, even though he learned he would spend Christmas locked away.  When the rest of the world is waking up to sounds of last minute wrapping, he will wake up to a room check.  When the rest of the world is cuddled up next to brothers and sisters opening gifts, he will be granted a single visit by his single mom.   When the rest of the world is eating in the holiday-adorn dining room, he will be eating off a plastic tray.

We make our choices and live with the natural consequences, whether good or bad.  He acted out in violence and now risks never returning to the house he called home.  In those heartbreaking moments I was granted, my words only gained momentum by means unearthly.  He stared at me with brimming lids.  His glossy eyes desperately tried to hide his desire to believe the things I was telling him and the verses I was reading.  We prayed and his prayers remained unspoken.
We are gifted God’s spirit not to love the people who are easy to love, but to love the modern day lepers.  Our world has turned children into criminals and has unknowingly convinced them they are incapable of more.  When did our power and love succumb to timidity?               

October in Wisconsin

The browned maples are nearly bare and our old three -story Victorian protects us little from the dropping temperatures outside. Wrapped in blankets and an insulated vest, I'm surrounded by the scent of candles and Good Earth tea. Voices of friends and housemates are muffled by the hardwood door that separates me from the rest. It's October and I've witness the first few snowflakes of what seems to be an eternal winter.

As the dark seeps into my bedroom I feel like a 21st century Josephine March, attempting to legitimize my internal dialogue by writing down countless lines of seemingly story-less plot. Instead of sitting in silence, as I imagine Jo would have done, my keystrokes follow the rhythms of orchestral reels and hornpipes. If I could choose, I would spend my life in such small moments. Where beautifully executed crescendos make my heart beat faster, where storybook endings don't first require heartache, and where there's just enough chill in the air to remind me of the pleasure there is in warmth.

written October 28th, 2008

Three Questions

Why is it so easy to worship a homeless man on Sunday mornings yet so difficult to love one come Monday?   

Why do bad decisions somehow make a person less than human?  Aren't bad decisions what ultimately make us painfully human?  It is our sin, our mistakes, that keep us mortal and not eternal. 

Black and White, and Shades of Orange

It’s easier to remain angry…to dwell on the disappointment. It makes more sense to write it off as yet another social injustice, or maybe even a fair conclusion. It feels right to condemn the wrong, but if I expect others to love me in spite of my mistakes, I have to be open to do the same.
Suited in orange cotton, his life ceases to be chronicled by time. Now narrated by detention’s routine, he is locked up with his thoughts and little faith. He unwillingly left his life, and consequently found it renewed. It never becomes less true; God works mysteriously.

Red Light Epiphany

The red taillight in front of me pulsed as the driver lightly tapped the breaks again and again.  The color, unnatural and harsh, was now imprinted on my mind.  My thoughts raced, as they often do when I allow my overactive imagination a little freedom.  The red no longer filled the space between my front bumper and the car ahead, but it seemed to have infiltrated every corner of the city block where my car temporarily sat idle. 

I really shouldn't read fiction or watch anything besides documentaries.  It is far too easy for me to suddenly convince myself I was destined for adventure beyond what's expected from a young professional.  It is far too easy for me to make excuses for the hold myths and legends have on my reality.  It is far too easy for me to uncover discontentment in the contentment of my blessed life. 
I waited for the car in the lead to move.  The red softened.  As my car lurched forward, I wondered what genre of fiction I was welcoming in this advancement through time.  Would it be romantic in nature?  Great question.  Would it be action packed?  I could only hope.  Would it be a mystery until the appropriate conclusion?  I would bet on it. 
God has an interesting way of hinting we are all made for a different world.   New and eternal.  I am gifted a "normal" life in order to reveal an exciting and incomparable story.  It is promised to be truly life changing.        

My Life Behind Bars

Is it a coincidence the only landmark visible from a jail is the steeple of a church?  I have a hard time believing it is simply that, a coincidence. 
My life was reduced to slow motion behind bars.  Standing in the middle of the rec room I was paralyzed by the swirls of laughing kids and purple balloons.  In that moment no one could have convinced me those kids were anything but good and blameless. My naive optimism was interrupted when I made eye contact with the guard and remembered I still stood behind eight inch thick glass and metal sliding doors.  It was a reality check of the fiercest kind- I got to go home at the end of the day.

In a worn blue uniform she sat across the conference table glassy eyed and broken.  What does it take to make someone believe they’re unlovable?  One hurtful word?  Two abandonments? Fifteen bruises? Thirty disappointing speeches?   Weeks after our first visit, I ended another conversation with a prayer.  I prayed and she finally cried.  Neither one of us knew that would be our last meeting.  I wanted to guarantee security while shielding her along the way, but I was called to be a brief, solitary character in her journey.  Somehow that has to be enough.
I checked in and left my bag with the supervising staff.  The incarcerated youth looked at me with questioning eyes.  They were unable to mask their curiosity as I sat down and introduced myself as someone entirely different than the normal 6’3”, 220 pound man they typically met.  I was given an hour to share a humbling story and then with the same number of questioning eyes following, I had to leave.   As much as I wanted to give them every answer they were looking for, I only had one to offer.  It can be difficult to trust in the sufficiency of words, even when they are not my own. 
Love holds no record of wrongs.  I’m learning.