I’m sitting in the waiting room at Kaufman County Jail. Too many of my friends spend time here. Some end up getting transferred to prison. Again, too many.
I dropped by The Block on the way to put some water bottles in the fridge. We were completely out. One of the guys asked if I was going somewhere and could he go. I said, “Sure, come on.”
“Where are you going?” He asked as he stood up.
“County,” I replied. He know what that meant and sat down. He doesn’t even want to get near this place. It could be bad memories or outstanding warrants. No matter what, he’s not keeping me company tonight.
“Who you going to see?” Someone asks.
“You know Bootcie and Buddy are in there.”
Nope. Didn’t know. That will be another day.
It’s not pleasant going to see anyone in jail. The chairs in the waiting room seem to be purposely uncomfortable. Plastic chairs with the seat bottoms all tilted down. If one wants to be in the first group visit at 7 PM, they have to be there to line up at 5:30 PM. The phones that are used to talk to the inmate are old and hard to hear. It’s as if the loved ones coming to visit are being punished as well.
Once I get in to see Mark, I ask about the other two guys and he rattles off three more names from The Block that are in there.
We just talk. He asks about his brothers and friends. He wants to know the news from the street. I never ask “Why are you here” or tell them how they got in trouble and need to straighten up. They already know. It’s enough that I’m there.
I never tire of when I walk into the visitor’s side of the glass and they see me. They light up like I’m their best friend and can’t believe I’m there.
That may be the point in writing this. Sometimes, more often than I realize, it’s enough to be present. It’s Christ in me reaching out to Christ in lock up. The Kingdom of Heaven is present in this. Gregory Boyle writes that we go to those on the outskirts not so we can make a difference but so they can make us different. I am constantly being changed by allowing Jesus to not only work in me but By allowing Him to show me Himself in those on the sidelines who are often ignored or written off. That in itself is enough.