Three sets of escalators never felt so long. Why am I here? What’s the point?
I sigh, then take a deep breath.
At the top, I step off and head down the long hallway, my footsteps echoing on the tile floor. I hear a familiar voice and my nervousness subsides a bit. Others are gathered outside the courtroom door, waiting to be admitted. The conversations around me sound muffled, like I have cotton stuffed in my ears.
My breath is shallow and I suddenly find myself fighting against a surge of dizziness. Someone speaks to me. I smile and nod. Was that the right response? I’m not sure.
I just want to rush through this so I could leave. Why haven’t they let us in?
When they open the huge double doors we all file in and somehow I end up in the front row. I fidget on the hard wooden bench, shifting and wiggling, trying to get comfortable. Sandwiched between a woman bouncing her leg endlessly and a man with arms the size of my lets, I begin to sweat.
I shouldn’t be here.
We sit watching while the bailiffs crack jokes. State and court-appointed attorneys buzz around, waiting their turn to be heard by the judge. Not knowing when he would be called, I pick idly at a cuticle as activity swirls around me.
Before the judge takes the bench I hear the heavy door open, then shut with a thick thud. I turn to see a young couple walking down the aisle. The girl is silently crying as a man, presumably her boyfriend, follows with a hand on the small of her back.
As they take a seat directly behind me, something inside me stirs. From deep within me I hear, “She needs to know that whatever happens today, something good will come from it.” The words aren’t spoken. They come to me as more of a feeling, a vibration inside my core, the way you might experience a conversation in a dream. “And the guy two seats to the left of you needs to know that forgiveness is key.”
I glance at the girl over my shoulder, then look to my left, beyond the woman with the jiggly leg and see a spindly older man with close-cropped grey hair and an angular face.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Really Papa? I don’t even know them. We’re in a courtroom full of all sorts of random people and you want me to just tell these people this? I want to scream in protest but that would only make the situation worse.
“She needs to know that whatever happens today, something good will come from it. And the guy two seats to the left of you needs to know that forgiveness is key.”
Ugh. Okay. But I’m still working on forgiveness myself. How can I tell this man he has to forgive – forgive what I have no idea – when I’m still trying to learn to forgive the unforgivable myself? Who am I to tell them anything?
“Why not you?”
How did I end up here? Why am I in a courtroom talking to God, when my life has been so full of misery it was impossible to have faith?