“A Prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent” – Dietrich Bonhoffer
The bulletin for this past Sunday’s worship service at Grace Covenant Presbyterian (GCPC) had the above rather odd quote on the front. Now that I’m singing in the choir, I often don’t have time to read the bulletin until later and when I read this I thought, “Advent and prison? What could they possibly have in common?” However, when I read it later, I understood.
I’ve been in a lot of prisons in my life. I don’t mean when I visited someone on death row in Georgia which I did in the 90’s. I mean prisons of my own, and sometimes the world’s, making. My traumatic brain injury has been my latest prison. It seems when I look at other people and see all the things they are able to do and I can’t, I’m in prison. Dammit, I think. (and yes, I sometimes use this cuss word.) Why am I stuck behind these bars! I want to be free!
In the beginning, I waited for freedom. I tried a couple of different volunteer positions that didn’t work out until I finally began volunteering as a Chaplain at a retirement facility in Atlanta. I figured it was just until I improved enough to serve a church again. The prison door opened for a little while. Years past and the door began to close because I knew I wouldn’t be able to work in a church again. To make matters even worse, my husband Michael took a job in Asheville, NC so we had to move.
Change is horrible for anyone with a brain injury. We like things constant and we don’t do well with new things. This is getting better for me now but back then it really threw me. I decided to not get involved in anything here until I became more accustomed to the city. After experiencing the closed prison doors in Atlanta, I came to a new place where I had to learn everything all over again. I don’t even like to think about how lost I always was when we first moved here (spatial orientation) but the prison doors had opened.
I tried two more volunteer positions here. It seems when one has a brain injury, one must be willing to try different things for often things don’t work the first time. That is certainly the case with me. Both positions were okay but I felt the prison doors shutting again. I wanted so much to be like everyone else. I wanted to work and pay my own way in the world. I finally began doing some visitation at one of my churches and the prison doors opened again. I do love this and plan to continue but recently, I have felt the prison doors slowly closing again.
God opened those doors for me in the past and I believe She will open them again. So this Advent, I am waiting for God’s Spirit to let in some sunlight. Truth be told, I’m already feeling it. Come Lord Jesus come. I’m waiting for you to open the doors again.
Note: At GCPC there is often the following note in the bulletin” “We gather to worship God who is larger than all our imagination! We encourage all persons to sing the gender nouns and pronouns they prefer in referring to God.” I never use pronouns for God when I’m speaking in public because unlike the biblical writers, I believe God has no gender. I know that some folks don’t like female pronouns for God but I figure since this is my blog, it is my perogative to use them.