Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I went to jail again to see my young friend. I had not been there for several weeks and had an open morning to drive over. The air was crisp and the sky deep blue. Everything went so smoothly, getting registered, the visitor's badge, the call to the unit he's on and the guards who were waiting for me. He came in dressed in a bright orange jump suit and a big smile on his face. He is so good-natured and happy to see me. I asked how his Thanksgiving in jail went. He told me his mom and girlfriend visited him. They do that every Sunday. She pregnant with their first baby. Then I asked him how he stayed so up-beat while in isolation (meaning locked in with another cell-mate all the time, segregated from the general jail population). He then rubbed his face with his hands and said; "That's where it's really tough. You try to get your mind off it by reading, exercising and staying active." He then went through his daily routine where the only change is a visitor like me or the every-other-day shower.
He's facing some long time for a crime he does not want to talk about and a baby he won't see till the baby is in elementary school. Then, as I was about to leave he said "Wait, did I tell you we're having a boy?" I told him that was great and asked him if they had nmaed him yet. They did and he told me his baby's name. Then he said quietly as I was getting ready to leave again "Today's my birthday. I'm 21." My heart collapsed like a baloon. A 21 year old father-to-be should not be here. But because of his crime he is. And now he waits for a sentence, a baby, a move to a prison and an uncertain future. And so he waits.
In the afternoon after staff meeting, I went to our retirement community where one of our members lives. She called me last night to talk about her husband's immanent death. He's a saint in our church and dying slowly. I asked her if we should meet somewhere else. "No" she said, "Let's meet in his room. He'll want to hear what I'm planning." And for the next half hour she told me about every text, hymn and solo she chose. They were his/their favorites. I guess after 50 years of marriage what is his and her favorite merges into "our" favorites. She talked about how much she loved him and admired him and did not want him stuck here in a body like, there is too much good waiting for him in heaven. And that's where she lit up, talking about hope and heaven and Jesus. And so she waits.
There is so much waiting around us; good waiting, impatient waiting, frightened waiting, resigned waiting, angry waiting, hopeful waiting, excited waiting, quiet waiting. Advent is our time for waiting.


At 5:46 AM , Anonymous kent said...

this is why we do what we do. it is not budgets or meetings or programs, it is the lives we touch through the power of Christ.

At 6:31 AM , Blogger donnjohnson said...


At 10:37 PM , Anonymous Gary Means said...

I'm waiting too. With my friend Don V. having cancer, I pray and I wait. Hopefully, this will be a long process, with gradual, but inexorable positive momentum. Or, if God had some inexplicable reason, a miraculous healing would do quite nicely too. But I suspect that it will be a lot of waiting, long past the Advent season. And I'm just a friend. I've walked that path with a family member.

Hallesby essentially defined prayer as an intersection of helplessness and faith. And that faith might not consist of anything more than presence, just going to God. So if that is the definition, then I can do that. I can go to Him, and I am certainly helpless.

I know that your family faces this journey with cancer as well. You and yours remain in my prayers.

At 10:39 PM , Anonymous Gary Means said...

I meant to write: "I've not walked that path with a family member."


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