Avalon Chronicles #66: "Incarcerated"
by Allen B. Clark firstname.lastname@example.org
After parking, I deposited my wallet, cell phone, and pocket contents in the car storage space, keeping only my glasses and photo ID card. Luckily there was a space adjacent to my destination. Soon I was to receive a second blessing, minor, but, indeed special. As I opened my door to put on my artificial leg, the woman standing behind the adjacent auto was on her cell phone. She finished and said, "The parking fee is $5.00 and lasts until 4pm (it was 12:25). I only used 25 minutes, so take the ticket and you can save $5.00." I did so and by the time I grasped the situation in fairness to turn around and remit $5.00 to her, she had gone.
With a modest amount of trepidation, but no fear, haltingly, as always, I walked up fifteen steps and into Dallas' Lew Sterrett Justice Center to the office designated "Religious Activities," where a pleasant sheriff's deputy inquired about my pocket contents and being told I could walk without my cane, took the cane to leave it in his office. After pinning on my access badge and depositing my ID card, my escort took me through a maze of corridors and offices to our destination. On the way I related to him about having attended several years previously a gathering of combat veterans from four nations, where a Canadian said he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but not from combat, but rather having been employed in a prison after his military service. My host said prison work is most harrowing and dangerous. He related that many of the regular prison inmates (we were in a county jail) were very mean-spirited and would just as soon stab a guard in the heart as anything, if given the opportunity.
The inmates to whom I was being led to talk to were in the county sheriff's jail in downtown Dallas. They were awaiting trial or sentencing. My audience was not in individual "barred" cells, but rather in a "pod," which was open in a large room and populated by about sixty inmates, who were grouped together and desirous of being instructed in anger management and parenting skills among other subjects. My escort entered the the big room to determine if I would address the guys in three smaller groups in a small outer room, where I awaited the decision by sitting on a desk or in the large room all at one time. The larger and entire group became my audience in the pod which was encircled on an upper tier with double stacked bunks, with an officer stationed at a desk behind me with all the men sitting at tables in a semi-circle around my raised space. The space was reached up a wheelchair ramp with metal railings. Beginning, I decided to brace myself while I stood leaning on the top railing bar. I gazed out at the mostly attentive men (a couple were still in their bunks), began, and one hour later looked up at the clock.
I do not recall all that I related, but without notes, I spoke of my time in Vietnam and the details of my wounding and rehabilitation, but, focused on the spiritual aspects of my salvation message and belief in Jesus the Christ and my maturation to the Lordship level of Christian faith. My remarks related to strategic spiritual warfare, that of God versus the devil in the heavens, and the tactical spiritual warfare we all encounter with individual demonic attacks. In no uncertain terms I spoke of Jesus' death on the cross and that significance for us, about confession of sins with its attendant forgiveness, and forgiveness of all others. I said I knew they desired physical freedom from incarceration, but, more importantly, they must seek spiritual freedom from the incarceration of their souls. I spoke about what I call my spiritual audit of writing down in column one on a sheet of paper all their unmet needs, unhealed hurts, and unresolved issues, then writing down in column two what it would take to resolve and address the three areas, then pray to God to answer through prayer the column two list.
I had prayed in agreement with Linda for an anointing by the Holy Spirit for what I would say and had requested classmates and friends to begin praying for me at 1pm that day. Several responded that they would do so or said they did. There was intermittent humor to elevate the spirits of the men residing in a very drab physical and emotional environment. Only a handful indicated they were veterans. When I asked if there were any amputees among them, one only said he lost a leg. I told him. "That's not good enough, you only lost one!" There was pretty good laughter with that one. At some time during the one hour while remaining standing, my escort handed me my cane, which he had called to be brought up from downstairs.
It ended with only a few questions, a prayer, and a STANDING OVATION, which sometimes I do not receive even in the "free" world. One fellow shouted out, "When are you coming back?" I said, I don't have anything else to say." He said, 'We have turnover." Another said, "Thank you for your service." Another said, "You look pretty good for 74." I responded, "I will tell my wife," and cutting up with the group, who all were under my age, flexed my muscle like the body-builders due at their events! Another right at a table at the front twice closed his fist and pumped his heart.
Upon my departure my escort said these men have really experienced life on the streets. I could only imagine. We went to the outreach program's director and my host reported, 'They had been very quiet." When I returned to my car, it felt great to be free and breathing fresh air and also to know after many decades of diligently seeking the truths taught by Jesus, that I had loosed the greater majority of the multitude of the issues that had incarcerated my soul and that also I am free!