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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Imprisoned at Liberty?

This feels awkward. I'm not going to lie. I've never done anything like it.


I slide my ID under bullet-proof glass, the guy with the badge takes it without even a hint of a smile. 
I take a seat and eyes wander over brushed aluminum characters on the wall. 
Sheriff's name. Undersheriff. County supervisor. Date built.

I shift weight around. Watch people come, sign in, sit down.
He opens a heavily barricaded door. Motions for us to come. 

"No cell phones? No weapons, nothing in your pockets?"
I hold up empty hands.

The metal detector shrieks when I pass under. Maybe my belt buckle?
He points me down the long concrete corridor. 

"Right at the end. Then all the way down."

Oh, the sound of the place. The sound of black dress shoes on a hard polished floor, bouncing off concrete walls and ceilings. So hollow. So empty.

The wind whips outside, but not even air can get into this place uninvited.
Warm though it may be, I pull my long coat closed tighter over purple shirt and tie. As if upturned collar of black cashmere can keep the foreign-ness out?
And I walk. And I wonder...
And I don't have long to wait. 


He lights up when I come around the corner. And so do I. And suddenly, there's nothing awkward about it... 

Nothing, except the glass. The cold glass between me and my friend. We press hands against it, close the gap between us except for the last 3/4 inch. And I pick up the black phone on my side, look him in the eyes--

"David... 
        So good to see you, man."*

And we talk like the old friends we are, only, this time I have to watch the clock. 
At 17 minutes we dive into Romans 8:35... Suddenly the words have new meaning.

"Who shall separate us from the love of God?!"

Once more we leave fingerprints on the glass. And I turn away and leave him sitting there... Turn away so others dear can see his face, hear his voice. And my eyes burn, and my heart burns. And I fiddle with the long row of buttons on my coat and my soles make that hollow mocking sound until I've reached that door... That door that opens to my touch. 


-  -  -  -  -

For days I see it. See the stripes he has to wear. See his sister's face when she said thank you. See his mother, writing another letter even while sitting in the waiting room. I see the coldness of steel and glass and concrete everywhere. I see the same solemn guard smile and chat with them-- they've been here lots of times. And under it all, through it all, I see this heartbeat of freedom. I see this peace. Behind thick glass I see in the eyes of my friend this liberty...

And I hear the echo, as if I were still sitting in that concrete vault:

"Who shall separate us from the love of God?!"

And then, I see myself.

And I see Jesus

He, dressed in His best, white all over, signing in, and sitting down. Because believe it or not, He doesn't have keys to this place. 
He has to wait.

He passes under, through the fortifications, comes around the corner, and I light up. Because of course I'm glad to see Him... But there's still this glass between us. And he raises a scarred hand to it, and I raise mine too. And of course I want out, but for some unjustifiable reason, I want to keep my pride intact even more.

And pride is a prison.

So He comes in, tells me how good it is to see me... and all at once, time is up, and He must go. 
And I let Him go. Watch Him walk out. 
And His eyes fill with tears. And His great, beautiful heart burns...

Mostly because, quite unlike the case of my old friend, the keys to this place are in my pocket.


My friend is free, in jail. 
And I'm imprisoned, at liberty.

Oh, the tragedy. To ever let pride be my prison. 
The prison that keeps Him out, more even than it does me in.


"Who [what?] shall separate us from the love of God?!"

Nothing. 

Nothing but my own choices...



*pseudonym.




11 comments:

  1. Reading this just made my heart ache..

    ReplyDelete
  2. I fight tears too… Oh, I don't want to keep Him out. I don't want His eyes to fill and heart to burn because of my stubborn pride.

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  3. Oh Sean, I don't have words... Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Those words... they sting -but thank you...

    ReplyDelete
  5. I needed this this week. Thank you, thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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