A Reflection from Confluence Volunteer Carolyn May.
I think this all sounds really obvious. But when you really think about what it all means, it does something to your heart. Or at least it does something to mine.
A few Sundays ago we had the chance to go with Deacon Craig to the closing of a Kairos weekend at the prison in Delaware. After an intense weekend of diving deep into the gospel and deep into community, the group of men who attended had the chance to stand up in front of a room full of both familiar faces and strangers and share their stories. They talked about where they were going into the retreat, or why they wanted to attend. And then they talked about how the experience changed them. I sat and listened to their stories, I couldn’t stop crying. It was such a beautiful and powerful experience and I felt privileged to be able to listen. I needed to be there. I felt redeemed simply in hearing their stories of redemption.
I think grace is always overwhelming to think about. It’s incredible to think that God still loves and me and calls me God’s own when I know all the ways in which I’ve failed at loving God and loving others. It’s overwhelming. But even more overwhelming was listening to these men living in prison talk about grace. To hear these men talk about the freedom they found during their weekend at Kairos.
I can’t get over that. These men live their lives within walls that they aren’t allowed to move beyond. They are living in prison which seems to be the opposite of living a free life. And yet, as these men shared their stories it was freedom they were describing. Knowing the love of God and the forgiveness of God set them free. Having the chance to speak and really be heard and having the chance to listen deeply to the words of others set them free. I can’t wrap my head around the power and the beauty of that. It’s too much. This is the gospel, I think. Freedom even for those in prison.
I sat there crying and realizing that God’s grace extends to us even in our darkest moments, even when we fail to have grace for ourselves, even when the rest of the world refuses to believe we deserve new life. And grace changes everything—how we think, live, interact and respond in and to the world the around us.