I was in the local prison yesterday. Wow! Pretty harsh conditions. It was hot, stuffy, and crowded with most just standing around. There was a sense of despair, and also a sense of control that flows from those who are strong. Some of the oppression came from the sense of being cut off from any sense that anyone outside cares – few get visited. These are violent men, men who have raped, killed, tortured others and committed many felonies. And when you hear the story of their childhood, so often there is great trauma and abuse. And so they each exist in their solitude as a being who cries out deep within for someone to recognize them – to grant them honour in the midst of brokenness. It is very striking!!
As I walked among them, I was struck by their vulnerability. They are isolated in their own weakness, trapped with the accusing voices that run around inside their own heads! Surprisingly there were no guards, thus they were also at risk in their solitude to who whoever was strongest, most capable in directing others and gaining influence so as to be in control of retribution. You could easily sense the weak and helpless and others who carried dominance. Yet all posturing. All seeking for a breath of something fresh. It was very dramatic.
I was struck by the privilege of walking along behind a woman – an unsung heroine. She has faithfully lived out a compassion for these men. She has entered every week for 11 years to bring small essentials and words of care and love. People glowed when they saw here – a mother who came to say they mattered. This woman is unnoticed by fame and headlines. She gives quietly, with no fanfare. Her love running into the vast emptiness of broken men caught in webs of violence they have no sense of escaping from. Still she gives and she touches hearts. A gift in the middle of a desert!
I was impacted by the hunger so many expressed as I looked into their eyes for some sense of honour from and older man – a father. So many wounded hearts run in a shredded condition as a result of never knowing approval and honour from a man who is more than a donator of sperm, but rather a figure who embodies a Daddy, a person who believes and calls forth greatness in the midst of great loss. I was aware of the gift we each carry to speak life over people. The grace that flows when we choose to see the treasure in the ones who we are privileged to cross paths with on this journey of ours.
Each day matters when we choose look into other’s eyes!
Author – Bill Tidsbury