But it was so startling that his friend had kept this horrific secret and a person was being kept against their will. Would it go away if he ignored the situation? What was his friend capable of?
How little did he know of his friend of 17 years? A million images and ideas resonated in his mind. He looked at his friend who was eagerly awaiting his answer, and agreed.
I did not know how to say no. When my friend was first arrested, I was tormented with disbelief. But my heart was filled with love. My father asked two questions of me. My response to the first question was thoughtful, as I had never considered love in these terms.
Love him more than ever, give him of yourself because he needs you now, more than any other time. If Christ can forgive, then so can we.
I was filled with questions. And he provided answers, there was no conflict in my heart, nor in my soul, just peace and acceptance.
I thought of how he reconnected to God in prison. Did it mean that prisoners have a lot of time on their hands and therefore focus on the Bible?
Is it a means of passing time? Were they looking for atonement? But sitting with my friend, walking in his shoes as he told the story was a most peaceful time for me. I listened with my heart open. He served his time. Good people serve sentences, when one decision alters a life. The road outside is not easy. Friends have left, a family broken, an absent father to a child left to reconnect with and build a nurturing relationship, unlimited in debt to a mother who stood by, stood up and waited for a son to return. A man released to become a wholesome valued member of society.
A family man, a compassionate man, willing to help others in need including released inmates.
A man who is willing to give what he can to friends and strangers. A man whom God has touched and the Holy Spirit has come into to give a new perspective and peace to the second chance he has been given in this life. The part of us that throws people away, gives no second chances and would rather collect bodies in cells until there is no more room than do what it takes to heal, restore and work to change the violent, oppressive systems that drove them there in the first place.
Even the most liberal bleeding hearts among us hedge and couch our statements about prison to sound politically practical, socially acceptable and incrementally progressive by talking only about non-violent offenders. It is a response to our own personal discomfort with the ideas of mercy, redemption and human transformation.
That discomfort in turn shapes our political realities. What makes us comfortable and uncomfortable politically is often a sign of what makes us comfortable and uncomfortable spiritually. In fact, our collective unwillingness to believe in transformation and redemption seems to be a part of our cultural DNA.
It shows up in the silliest of places. In a particularly powerful moment in the book, we see a letter that she sent him in prison where she wrote:. And God is able to pick you up and help you to go on. He can clean up your messes, no matter what they are. What will it take for the rest of us to understand that bad deeds, even when they cause irreversible damage and have undeniable consequences, are seeds.
And that as each seed falls into the ground we have a choice: We can either water it and help it grow. Or we can waste it, despite a society desperately crying out for trees, communities crying out for the men and women, the mothers and fathers, that are arguably best equipped to stop the cycle of violence and help dismantle the systems of poverty, racism and neglect that feed it.
His calendar is filled with events, book signings and talks for people clamoring to be inspired. He is charismatic and, as Writing My Wrongs displays, a fantastically gifted writer. How we treat the violent offender will be the ultimate predictor of how wholly and completely we can right our wrongs as a society that fosters violence and crime and clearly has not figured out how to stop it.
They are the sharp, effective tools that can be used to rebuild lives and communities, one person at a time.