Today I wept…again…as I signed a receipt from an inmate of prison with a history of abusing others. He sends us sacrificial gifts in his journey of recovery. These are not out of “penance” for his brokenness but out of joy that places exist for healing of those like him and for those he harmed long ago. No one was there for him as a little boy to hear his silent scream.
My mommy heart always makes me stop when I see his gifts and take a deep breath. Often little boys and girls who grow up to wound others were wounded by others themselves. I stop and pray for the tiny lives out there needing a loving, listening home. I beg God to place them in my way or another’s to show a gentle touch, a listening ear, a whisper of joy and worth in who they are. I’m so humbled by his precious gifts. Our pain and our brokenness break God’s heart as He loves unconditionally.
Jet-lagged, I woke early this morning to sit in the darkness of my living room and pray for the day. Take these words as a love letter. Mother Teresa said, “I’m a tiny pencil in the hand of a writing God sending a love letter to the world.” I’m no Mother Teresa, but my hope is this: Whether you read this from a cozy chair with your morning cup of tea; from your kitchen overflowing with dirty dishes and a herd of munchkins at your feet; from a lofty, ivory tower imparting knowledge to the world; or just from a bunk bed in a cell staring at four walls, I pray you come to understand that our hidden worries are known, and we’re loved by our Creator, worthy even in our messes and broken places, or from our comfy homes or offices.
The ancient truth which changes individuals and cultures is that we are stronger, more loving, and better able to navigate sorrow or joy when we intentionally choose to be a circle of protection and community of safety to each other. The key is knowing we are all alike whether learning from a prison cell, from our own mistakes, or others’. Humility binds us together. I welcome the gift of the penitent. Help us God to all be penitent, intentional, and in humility, consider others better than ourselves. This lesson comes from “the least of these,” from four walls of a prison cell, and a broken little boy, now a man, who shares sacrificially to heal others in ways he never experienced. God help us learn from him!