I was in court today witnessing a person from our community being sentenced for a number of charges, among those, stalking and threatening to kill. The woman sitting next to me was on the prosecution team, and like me, a committed Christian. Her words were directed to the accused.
"Dangerous" wasn't the right word. "More broken" than most, if one could measure brokenness, would be a more appropriate description. A hurt person who finds no healing will always end up hurting others more.
Right before entering court I received numerous texts from members of my church saying that my name was splashed on the front page of this morning's local newspaper under the title: "Serial Stalker Gets Church Support"... and who says journalists don't like a good drama!!? Anyway, the most concerning part of the article was the accusation that a letter I had written to the judge had helped the accused out of a jail sentence in 2013, only then for the accused to re-offend a short time after.
It turned me into a rather large target as I entered the court room!
For the record, I never wrote any letter to any judge regarding the case of the accused, let me make that very clear. In fairness to the newspaper, the senior editor acknowledged the error and will publish the correction along with an apology in the next issue (which is Friday... doesn't do much to help me with the mess I'm dealing with now, but hey, mistakes happen!!!!). But that's not why I'm writing this blog...
Back to the woman sitting to my right.
As a prosecutor her job is pretty straight forward. Prosecute. Use the evidence to convince the judge that the accused is guilty. The evidence demands justice. Justice demands an appropriate sentence. Through her eyes the case is black and white.
I agree. The accused is guilty. Justice demands an appropriate sentence. There is no defending the actions of a man who has acted in a way that is completely inappropriate. He must pay the consequences of his actions.
But through my eyes the situation is not black and white. There is nothing black and white about sin. In a sinful world sin will always be grey, there's just different shades of it. Like the crowd accusing the adulteress before Jesus, the situation is not black and white. None of us can point to the white without acknowledging the black within us.
Back to the woman sitting to my right.
"He's guilty and deserves to go to prison, I don't understand why you are even bothering with him. I know your job is to care for people, but with this guy... really?" It's not a bad question. It's one I struggle with constantly.
I think I just smiled back, which may have come across as either very weird or completely idiotic. But with the smile came the words of Jesus to the Apostles (and the audience) from Stephen Adly Guirgis play "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot"
“Right now, I am in Fallujah. I am in Darfur. I am on Sixty-third and Park having dinner with Ellen Barkin and Ron Perelman... Right now, I'm on Lafayette and Astor waiting to hit you up for change so I can get high. I'm taking a walk through the Rose Garden with George Bush. I'm helping Donald Rumsfeld get a good night's sleep...I was in that cave with Osama, and on that plane with Mohamed Atta...And what I want you to know is that your work has barely begun. And what I want you to trust is the efficacy of divine love if practiced consciously. And what I need you to believe is that if you hate who I love, you do not know me at all. And make no mistake, "Who I Love" is every last one. I am every last one. People ask of me: Where are you? Where are you?...Verily I ask of you to ask yourself: Where are you? Where are you?”
I'm not sure that answers the question of the woman sitting to my right, but it certainly helps with my own struggles when I am torn between black and white and everything inbetween.