Prisons. Society tries to always keep them at an arm’s length. Or, let’s be honest. An arm, foot, leg, and any other object they can put in the way to keep the distance as far away as possible. We are terrified of prisons and inmates.
People who do or did bad things. I see it everywhere, people posting about a newly released sex offender living in their neighborhood. They put up warnings with their face and information plastered on it.
We will never allow them to move on. We label them with permanent marker. Actually no, even that has the ability to fade if you wash it hard enough. We tattoo them. So they may never forget what horrible creatures they are. We don’t seem to want to treat them as people, so we may as well refer to them as creatures.
“No, that’s too harsh…”
“Is it? But it wasn’t too harsh to warn everyone to stay away and watch their backs if they spot them?”
When will we realize that inmates are people? The same as you and me. They have made mistakes, yes. Have you?
“Well ya, but I haven’t killed anyone or anything.”
That’s not what I asked. Have you made mistakes?
There you have it. Not much different if you ask me.
We are all the same, all fundamentally flawed.
We are searching for love, forgiveness, redemption, acceptance.
We all need GRACE.
But all of a sudden when someone gets put behind a lot of metal bars and thick walls covered in barbed wire, we say, “Sorry. Grace doesn’t reach that far.” Really? Huh. Cause the God I know loves all of his children with a fierce love that cannot be overcome. Especially not by some measly wire.
But guess what? God wants you to see his children like that too.
Let's dare to go beyond the seemingly daunting physical exterior that they are contained behind. Let's leave our judgment at the metal detector.
That's where God's kingdom truly comes alive: past the barriers of separation and labels; where all of his children are gathered with no sense of distance.
If you do dare to try this, you will begin to experience his love and his presence in a way you never knew existed. In a way so unadulterated you will finally understand the gospel in a fully immersive way.
The way it was supposed to be encountered. Not as simply words on a page. But instead beyond the margins. All of them. Beyond.
That is where He rests.
We could talk about this all day and point out why things need to change, but if we don’t actually begin to take small steps to make it better, it means nothing. So here are some fundamental steps we can start taking now:
Volunteer! Many prisons look for volunteers to help with, or start, classes.
Write! There are non-profits that will set you up with a pen-pal behind bars. Be the hope someone receives in the form of a letter.
Stop! Stop the stigma. When people describe inmates as "other," speak up.
Let us allow love to lead the way.
Calli is an actress and writer located in Minneapolis. She is passionate about the art of storytelling because she believes it is our job to give voices to those who are not heard. Stories have the ability to change the way we see and interact with the world, and she could not imagine being a part of a more impactful medium. When she isn't auditioning, directing, or giving speeches for the Minneapolis Business College, she can be found lost among the racks of banana republic or blissfully wandering the organic produce section at Target.
To stay up to date with Calli's adventures, visit http://thevoyagerjournal.wix.com/the-voyage