Thursday, November 14, 2013

Surprise the world with a spark of hope

Here's a story of human compassion that will warm your heart.


As an attorney, I have to occasionally visit a client in a correctional facility.


This past Saturday, I went to a State penitentiary.


It's dirty and old. Just what you'd expect. The furniture for visitors is molded plastic circa 1974.


Anyway, in the outer lobby of the building, there  sits a machine that accepts cash.


It's for the commissary account for the inmates.


You put cash into the machine and that cash goes into the commissary account for use by the prisoners.


This way, the jailbird can purchase extra food, snacks, socks, toiletries, or whatever the prison is willing to sell  them to make life on the inside a little more bearable.


Unfortunately, this machine requires a special identification card containing prisoner and visitor information. The device requires certain data to be entered before money is uploaded to the prisoners' accounts.


That's where the story begins.


As I waited in the lobby area, I noticed an elderly black man.


He was there to see his son.


But he wanted to put money on his son's commissary account and was having trouble navigating the device.


I was unfamiliar with this contraption and was unable to lend assistance.


That's when it happened.


A young girl, about 25, caucasian, wearing a navy wool coat, blue jeans, and a colorful knit beret, stepped forward.


She was quite beautiful in a haunting sort of way.


She was in the building to see her boyfriend who was doing time for drugs.


She had every reason to keep to herself, waiting  for the chance to see her beloved.


She had every reason to wallow in the cynicism  that was stifling in that room.


Instead, she went up to the old man to help.


She very kindly and gently assisted the senior citizen in dealing with the commissary vending machine.


He was confused but she was  patient and kind in her demeanor.


She helped him lovingly.


Everyone who observed the scene was uplifted.


There, in this dungeon where joy was never found, this young girl made us all smile with a sense of hope.


We've all heard that that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.


She lit a candle.


An old black man approaching senility confronts the sadness of his son's imprisonment, only to be embraced by an impromptu act of compassion.


I'll never forget it.


I was changed.


Yes, it's a crummy world we live in.


Filled with hate, war, poverty, and racism.


But within each of us there lurks the opportunity to reflect the image and likeness of God, in which, after all, we were all created.


Help the lonely, the frightened, and the confused when you encounter them.


Be a light in the darkness that surrounds you.





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