2005-11-01 - Common Ground
Originally Published 2003-04-12
We all sat waiting. We were the lucky ones. We had already been waiting for a hour so we could have a visit. Six people got in; the rest could wait for the second hour or go home. I was really nervous. I looked around. A young, very pregnant woman with a toddler, nervously talked with another woman, who loudly explained the rules of waiting in line, as she puffed a cigarette. A middle-aged couple waited, pacing the walkway. He smoked; she nervously looked at her watch. A woman with three young children and a friend tried to keep the kids under control as we waited. One other older woman waited at the picnic bench.
Here we were. None of us knew each other, but we all had common ground. We were waiting to visit someone we knew in the local prison. I felt like I was going to throw up. I was so nervous. Rick was trying to talk to me, but his words had some empty kind of echo. This is not what is supposed to happen, I kept telling myself. I was supposed to be visiting my son at college, not in jail. A loud buzzer rang, and a woman yelled the names of the inmates who had visitors. The room we were in was ten feet long and about five feet wide, and we could talk on telephones through plexiglass. The noise from the kids and the others on the phones was almost deafening. I felt like I was in some surreal world. I managed to say a few words, we all cried and thankfully Rick was more composed than I was. He was able to talk with our son, and in what seemed like no time, the hour was up.
Once outside, I started to sob. I could not believe this was happening. Halfway to the car, I noticed the couple who had also been visitng their son. She, too, was sobbing. We looked at each other, and I said "I know how you feel." She hugged me. We kind-of gathered ourselves, and she told me that her son was in prison. He was young too - just like our son.
We didn't know each other. They were well-dressed and educated. I think I still had on my sweat pants with a daycare kid's lunch smeared on the side. But it did not matter. It didn't matter that we probably had little else in common besides the pain we both knew as mothers; we were connected by it and comforted by it. Maybe there is a lesson in that. Churches are full of people with different life experiences, different backrounds and different ideas. But the one thing that should bind us together, our one common ground, should be our love for Christ and for each other. It should not matter where we have come from or where we have been, but that together we know where we are going. Maybe God allows us to share our hurts with each other so we can, as His word tells us, comfort each other as we, too, have been comforted.
2nd Cor 1:3&4 Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort - who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
In His Service,