The family had been making plans for several months to visit their husband and father in the new prison to which he had been transferred. Since they had no reliable transportation they had to arrange to hire someone to drive them on this two day trip. The costs had been steep, paying for the car, hotel rooms for themselves and the driver and setting aside money to spend on the vending machines located in the prison visiting room. This was a difficult time but the family all pulled together and saved their pennies to make this trip happen.
There was an air of excitement and relief after the family had piled into the car for the long trip ahead. Each family member spoke of the many things that they wanted to share, each dwelt in a small happy private place looking forward to the pending visit. Each family member was dressed in their best clothes and groomed to reflect the well being that they wanted to convey. Each secretly hoped that this would be a special time together since they would not be able to make this trip again for at least six months.
The children ate their lunch over homemade sandwiches and drank from a shared bottle of water. No one seemed to mind the cramped conditions of the rough roads they traveled over. Each passing mile was a mile closer to their loved one. He may have done something wrong but he still was part of their family. Each had paid a significant price to retain the family circle, each had been ridiculed for the choices that they have made to keep the family intact.
When others tell you that it is time to move on with your life they are venturing into territory with which they have little or no familiarity. It is like telling someone at a funeral that you know exactly how they feel. The fact is that no one perfectly understands another’s grief, shame, pain or humiliation. Sometimes the best thing to do is just stand quietly alongside a friend and be a visible, present comfort. Standing up for those we care about will always have more meaning then words gushed out in an uncomfortable moment of time.
The car slowly moved across the state line and moved closer to the prison. A sense of excitement pervaded the atmosphere inside of the vehicle as the time grew shorter for the initial visit. The girls in the back were busy brushing their hair and the boys were making quiet talk between themselves. No one wanted to burden their mother since she seemed to be anxious about he upcoming visit. It had already been a long time since they had all been together with each other. It was going to be like Christmas again and they wanted to make the best of it.
When you really love someone you cannot just cut off that feeling of affection and concern for their well being even when they have failed you miserably. Instead you find a way to extend the gift of forgiveness and you attempt to pick up the broken pieces moving into the future. People who wind up in prison are no different. They need to be forgiveness and restored to family relationship. In giving the gift of forgiveness to others we start the process of healing the wounds within ourselves. A gift is not a gift until it is given away freely, just like the gift of redemption has been freely given to each of us.
As the car turned down the long drive to the main prison, the children were busy looking out the windows to catch a glimpse at where their father lived. No one said a word as they looked at the barbed wire surrounding the grim looking buildings. Everyone scooted out of the car and clustered around their mother. Together they walked slowly over to the visiting shack where they would be processed into the institution. As they approached the building, a prison guard emerged from the building waving them away. He shouted out to them that the prison was on lock-down status since that morning due to an incident and he had no idea when visiting would resume.
With those words of dismissal he turned his back and walked back into the shack ignoring their shrieks’ and cries. With tears of bewilderment in her eyes, the distraught mother gathered up her children for the long ride home. www.dismasproject.com. 888-545-5128.