Circumstances, Situations, Criminal, Child

“Indeed, the glory to which God raises the soul through grace is so great that even the natural beauty of the Angels is as nothing compared with it. The Angels themselves wonder how a soul that was sunk in the desert of this sinful earth and robbed of all natural beauty can be clothed with such a wonderful splendor. But this wonder of the Angels will not surprise us when we see and hear that God Himself considers the beauty of grace with astonishment and rapture. For how otherwise can we explain what He says in The Canticle of Canticles to the soul: ‘How beautiful art thou, my love, how beautiful art thou!’ (Cant. 4:1).”
— Fr. Matthias J. Scheeben, p. 133
AN EXCERPT FROM, The Glories of Divine Grace

For the last three days I have spent my time in the presence of some of the most beautiful of God’s creations, the young girls who are incarcerated at the Ron Jackson State School who attended an event called Epiphany. I was a table spiritual director for this event, Epiphany 38.

The Epiphany program is designed to let these girls know they are loved by God and by those of us who participate in the program. I fully understand some of these girls are here because of horrible actions. I also know that almost without exception, each of these girls have had horrible things happen to them for the majority of their young lives.

In the last three days I saw girls, who have never had a birthday party in their lives, light up with joy and heartbreaking wonder as they are given a party in which each of them get a cake with their name written on it. I watched them cry as they read letters written to them by people (Christians) whom they have never met telling them they are praying for them. Many had never received a letter before.

I saw eyes  that were fearful, hateful, calculating change to innocence, honesty and open-ness as they were allowed to express their feelings and then lead, by God’s grace and the efforts of God’s peacemakers, to write down the names of those who had hurt them, used them, abused them, and discarded them and then nail those lists to a cross in order to give them to the Lord. To be there was to experience God’s grace expressed through innocence lost and a childhood in Christ claimed. This is a very emotional and spiritual event.

I fully understand that events like an Epiphany may or may not have a life-changing effect on the lives of these girls. I understand that God’s forgiveness does not always align with human justice and punishment. However, I hope that each of the girls who attended this event, a least for a few moments, experience a taste of the love that God has for them and for a short time, were able to be children, beautiful young girls upon who God looks with eyes of love and care.

We cannot fully know the circumstances of their lives. We cannot know the entirety of the situations that brought them to the place in their lives. We likely do not know what criminal behavior they were convicted of. We can know, however that they, each are a child, a child loved by God.