Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Alone & Clueless

My 49 Days of Grace continue...

My first freezing night (see It Was Just So Cold) in the Ware County Jail came to an abrupt but merciful end when they slid my breakfast through the slit in the metal door. I had no idea what time it was, i just knew it was still dark. I won't spend a lot of time on this, but let me tell you an absolute truth- prison food is not fit for any living thing. I wasn't expecting gourmet, but COME ON! Anyway, after ignoring my breakfast I began to mentally prepare myself to go home. The officers who had picked me up, the guards who had booked me, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who was on my case had all told me that I would see a judge that first morning and that he would set bail. I was confident that Marilyn and her boss James (an attorney) would have everything arranged and that I would go home quickly after the hearing. A short time later the guards came to get me- and this time they were serious. Some of you will remember that when I was arrested the officers never handcuffed me or even touched me. To take me to see the judge (in a small courtroom right there in the jail) they chained me up like I was Frankenstein. Handcuffs, ankle cuffs, and chains connecting them to a chain around my waist. It was very eerie, and I couldn't help but feel like this was going to be more difficult than originally thought. Marilyn and James were waiting on me, and when my name was called James stood to represent me. We were told that because of the charges against me that this judge could not set bail. A State Superior Court judge - Judge Jackson - would have to set my bail. James told they should be able to get everything done within a day, and I was sent back to my ice box with no idea of what to expect.

And what should I have expected? Absolutely nothing! For the next 3 days I never left my cell. There was no communication from the outside. They brought me food and checked occasionally to make sure I was still there and still alive. I didn't get to go outside (nor would I at any point during my 49 day stay- and yes, that was a violation of my rights.). I didn't get to shower or shave. In fact I didn't even have a toothbrush. I didn't get a cellmate. I never knew what time it was. My requests for information were met with grunts and shrugs. It became clear to me that I was in a type of solitary confinement, but I wasn't sure why. I could hear other people on my hall, but I could not see them. I had no idea what was happening. It was scary, and it was frustrating. Hope and faith were hard to come by in those moments. But prayer was all I had. So I prayed. Hard.

Then, on day 5, Officer Betty came to work. Betty was was a wonderful Christian woman who had been away visiting her grandkids during my first few days. With her return, everything changed. Betty talked to me like I was an actual human being. She knew I had been a youth pastor, and we talked about faith. She let me take a shower and got me a toothbrush. She informed me that I was being kept in a special needs ward with high risk inmates for my own safety. They didn't want to mix me in with the general population, but if I wanted to be able to go outside and have access to the library and those kinds of things that she would get me moved. I told her I would be out very soon, so I could just stay where I was. Wrong again.  

Betty also did some research and found out what was going on with my bail. The DA (whose son had been in my youth group) had set a very reasonable bail, but the judge had so far refused to sign it - even after Marilyn drove it to his office. So I sat. And waited. We began to learn the ins and outs of visitation, of getting me some additional t-shirts and underwear, of getting me my bible and some other books, and of how to set it up so I could call home and buy some snacks. There was a lot to learn, and no one had much interest in teaching us. Marilyn sorted it all out. She was simply amazing. 

As five days stretched into 18, Easter Sunday arrived. It was one of the most grace-filled days of my life, and seldom have I ever felt the presence of God surround me more, or felt the Holy Spirit so strongly. You can ready that story by clicking here. As to how my days were going in the meantime...well that is next week's installment of 49 Days of Grace!

Because of Jesus,

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