Yesterday, our former governor, Rod Blagojevich, began serving a fourteen-year prison sentence for corruption. I’m not here to talk about his innocence or guilt nor if he should be going to prison or for how long. But, he has been on my mind, this week, his last week of freedom.
I have imagined what it would be like to be told what time to get up, when to eat, when to work and when to go to bed. Also, to live in cramped quarters with someone you do not know, and only see your family on a limited basis, and when you do see them, it is in a room surrounded by strangers. I have imagined being in a cell at night with the lights off, feeling so afraid and lonely, and then you might hear someone crying in the distant darkness for their family.
After I have visualized that scene for a while, I shake myself, look around and realize I am home, so humble as it may be, I am home. I still have my dreams to write and live my life as I best see fit. I think about the cell and feel a little more thankful, that God kept me from being in the wrong situation, making poor choices or growing up in a neighborhood where my life may have turned out differently.
Maybe I think about this because I have met a few former inmates, as my Grandfather served as a volunteer chaplain at a federal penitentiary for over thirty-five years. He visited prisoners every week and shared the Gospel and prayed with them. Many of those became Christians and lived a better life after leaving prison. The ones I met seemed like regular folks, who had made wrong choices, got with the wrong crowd, etc. But, they never forgot those days of incarceration. Blagojevich has an inmate number, and those former convicts I know, say you never forget that number.
Maybe because of the former prisoners I have met and my Grandfather’s ministry, I do find myself praying for those who are incarcerated. Yes, they broke the law, and they do need to face the consequences, but they also deserve compassion.