Out of Place
By SARAH DAVIS I walked everywhere I went during my incarceration experience. Even after rolling off my top bunk and fracturing my ankle in the middle of the night, I limped along for the longest time. We looked like a colony of ants wearing shades of blue on that compound of two-thousand women. And not a pretty shade of blue either. Not like cobalt or ocean or turquoise. Although, perhaps no shade would’ve been pretty fashioned as a state uniform.
My body acclimated during that time, and I learned to adapt to being outdoors often in all of Ohio’s unpredictable weather. In the sweltering heat warnings of summer, I would long for air conditioning and relief, realizing how much I had taken for granted. In the crispness of Fall, I would dream about scented candles and my favorite sweaters and carved pumpkins for the porch and home. And once during Spring, when the sun began to show itself again and hope returned, I was on one of those everyday walks when I noticed something amongst a heaping pile of rubble.
It was inside of a fenced demolition site. A former building that used to house women, now condemned and torn to the ground. A pile of rocks and debris and memories of what used to be, symbolic in the way of my own life and the lives of the women inside those razor-wired fences.
I could go in many different directions with what I want to say next. I could tell you that there is so much good that is still present even in the most challenging seasons of life, and that would be true.
I could tell you that endless beauty can come out of the most devastating and heartbreaking things you will go through in life, and that, too, would be true.
I could repeat the saying, “Bloom where you are planted,” because you should. I knew a girl there who taught herself Spanish and French while incarcerated. Fluently. You should bloom.
But this is what seems most pressing at this moment. It’s a Mexican proverb I heard once, and it goes like this:
“They tried to bury us. But they didn’t realize we were seeds.”
That’s why I couldn’t take my eyes off that little wispy flower blooming right there in the middle of all that rubble. Because I felt that I had been buried in my own life; like the Sarah I used to know was gone, along with any hope for the future.
Little seedling, there are things you will go through in life that will try to bury you, sometimes just because life happens and life is hard. And sometimes, because of the mess you have made. One shovel full of dirt at a time, until eventually, it will seem and feel like it is over. Curtain call. Bad ending. Like nothing could come out of this wasteland of a situation. Like all hope for the future is lost .But I urge you to slow your walk and look again.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT As I think back on this time in my life and other difficult seasons I have walked through, I remember feeling it was difficult to hope that my future would ever hold anything more than the pain I felt in the present moment. I could only see the ashes of all that had been lost. One of my lifeline verses during those times was from Isaiah 61:3 where it says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
This is the good news, that God redeems our pain and rebuilds our future. It’s the hope that we can hold onto and rest upon. Choose to anchor your soul in Jesus.
PRAYER Father, in moments where I cannot see a hopeful future for myself, remind me of this good news, and of your faithfulness and the promises in your word to restore beauty in my most broken places. When all I can see is what isn’t, help me to search for the flower in the rubble, the beauty that still exists in the midst of my pain and confusion. Help me to remember Your comforting presence is always there for me, even when I can’t feel it. Amen.