Post image for Incarcerated – Part 3

Incarcerated – Part 3

by DanWolgemuth on May 17, 2019

Within the first few minutes of arriving at the detention center, I was issued a fresh set of clothing. Light gray sweat pants and matching sweat shirt, a blue t-shirt (which all new residents wear), white boxer shorts, white socks and slip on sandals. Everything I came in with was gone. At that moment, you become what every other resident is. You assume the identity of the clothing you wear. Ironically, this was true, even for those of us who were only experiencing this for a 26-hour block of time. Somehow we fit in with the collection of young men and women. Age, gender, ethnicity, social status all melting into light gray. There were only two kinds of people. Free people and confined people. And even though I was 50 years older than most of the residents, I was one of them. Confined. Incarcerated.

Never was this more clear than at meal times. Six of us sat at a rectangular table. The seats permanently connected to the table. Round seats with no back. One by one we were dismissed to go up to a counter to pick up the food. Drinks were poured by staff members. Milk or water. Salt and pepper were only available to those who could purchase them with “resident coupons” which had been earned for behavioral compliance.

There was one exception to the fashion rule. One resident who wasn’t in light gray. I’ll call him WS.

When I entered BPod in my first moments in detention, my eyes raced to him. He wore a dark green smock. Sleeveless with nothing else on. Nothing. Later I would learn that this was a suicide smock.

At breakfast on Saturday morning, I sat diagonally across the table from WS. Sitting beside me, and directly across from WS was a young boy who, although dressed in light gray, stood out because of his constant rocking back and forth.

Just minutes after each of us made the solo journey to gather a rubber tray of oatmeal and two pieces of white bread, something happened between these two young men. WS squeezed his fist as fire burned in his eyes. I’d never seen anything like it. Raw rage. Daggers of hatred directed at my neighbor. WS muted any overt action, but his eyes were completely unmasked. It was evil in undeniable terms.

Self-inflicted scars littered WS’s arms. Exposing the roadmap of his journey.

I sat in complete disbelief. This was a lifetime away from my local favorite breakfast haunt. There were no three-egg chorizo omelets with a side of fresh whole wheat toast, and the smell of house blend coffee floating in the air. This was barely contained evil sitting three feet from me in a green smock. “Nobody would believe this. Nobody.”

Then, the Holy Spirit, with life-altering clarity, pointed the eyes of my soul to the Gospel of Mark, the 5th chapter. Jesus takes His disciples through a harrowing nautical adventure in order to cross the sea, not to give them sailing lessons, and maybe only partially to teach them about faith and trust, but most certainly because He had an appointment to change the destiny of His very own WS. A self-destructive outcast. Unconfinable. Possessed.

It was a field trip for His followers to show them just how far He would go for one lost soul. And I was completely wrong. Somebody would believe me… and it was Jesus.

So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones. (Mark 5:1-5, NLT)

Jesus. Navigated straight into the chaos of evil. To save a single life. To redeem a tormented soul. To give me a glimpse of what life could be for a young man like WS. To squelch the storm of fear in my soul and stir a heart of compassion. For WS.

During my hours in BPod, I had times of interaction with WS. Lucid and thoughtful moments of interaction. I could see past the shores of despair. Past the brokenness. Through the fog.

He was there. A young man with promise. Someone that Jesus would have gone out of His way to rescue.

A living commentary.

In detention, there is one acceptable act of physical contact with someone like WS. One singular way to say, “You matter to me.”

A fist bump. Knuckles to knuckles. Heart to heart.

I was in prison, and you came to me…

For one lost soul.


To be continued…

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: