Yesterday I did my first Jail visit. The young man I saw is the son of a member of our congregation. He is being held while waiting trial for drug related robbery charges. He seems like genuinely kind person who is truly sorry for what he did. He knows that his mistakes brought him to this place and he looks forward to being able to change his life. Since he's been in jail (about six months) he has found new strength through his faith which he practices through Bible Study on his own and with his fellow inmates. He said that he understands now that his life and his future are in God's hands. While this young man is anything but free, his faith is one way he can experience freedom. I pray for him and his mother, who I consider a good friend.
The whole experience of going to the jail was rather surreal. Being moved between locked doors and shuffled through at the mercy of the guards was rather disconcerting. The noise in the jail is unbelievable... clanging doors, yelling, the loud speaker constantly blaring. And this was just in the area I was able to see. The constant barrage, day and night, must be mind numbing for the inmates.
After my visit, I came back to the church, washed my hands and made a cup of coffee. And I realized that even these simple freedoms that I take for granted are beyond the scope of my new friend's current experience. While I do not in any way dismiss the seriousness of what he did, I do hope that some good can come out of it. This whole experience has given me much food for thought.... and a new perspective on the idea that, not matter how 'free' we think are, we can only experience true freedom through surrender.