I've done some house cleaning and redecorating to my blog. I feel it is important for me to keep writing, so I want to stay current. The new blog picture is a photograph of a collage covered by a stained glass template-I'm experimenting with new art techniques. Well, the techniques aren't new, but the way they are combined is. It is entitled "The Lady with the Perfume Bottle". It is inspired by the Bible story found in all four gospels, about a woman who comes to Jesus and pours a very expensive bottle of perfume over His head, after which she wipes his feet clean with her hair and tears. I've had the privilege this past week of meeting some very special ladies. I am facilitating a group of family members of spouses/children/parents who have struggled with addiction. It isn't the first 12 step group I've been in charge of...there was another group years ago, female inmates, with a host of issues and relational problems.
One of those inmates came to mind to me today as I have been praying and thinking about how to impart some wisdom and courage to those ladies I share with currently. Her nickname was Jazz. Jazz was a really pretty, petite Hispanic young woman. She had huge brown eyes and full lips accentuated with a very nasty scar. There was something about Jazz that made her unforgettable. She had a tender vulnerability but also a core of steel,enough to cause her to insist that a guard who easily outweighed her by 100 pounds and towered a head and a half over her, bring her to group after the call had been given and she missed it. I will never forget the sight of her coming into the room when we were all assembled. It just wasn't done. After a few times in group, I found out that she was pregnant by her much older drug dealer boyfriend, who had Jazz do his dirty work and then basically serve the time he never would. She was an addict by choice. But the price tag of someone else's cruelty was the loss of her baby. The weight of such harsh consequences bore down on her tiny body and fragile soul.
The women I am journeying with now have deep scars from similar cruelty. Their consequences are a jail sentence of the mind and emotions, undeserved and borne in a daily struggle to maintain sanity and balance. For some the prison sentence has been years, carried out since childhood. I saw what prison did to a person like Jazz. It was frustrating beyond belief to go in for an hour, try to impart words of life that might make a difference, and have to go, knowing there was nothing else I could do. I heard in the sermon this morning that even when forgiveness is given, consequences remain-and those consequences for people caught up in situations not necessarily of their making, can be devastating.
What is the answer to this? The woman who came to Jesus came with everything she had left-no one knows how she afforded the perfume, only that according to the men in the room, she was an "immoral" woman. No name given, only a description. And she was out of options and answers. Sheer desperation must have driven her to an act that might have merited stoning. She touched a rabbi. Jesus' response to her was to rebuke the hard-hearted men who would have had her driven out, and offer her forgiveness from the only person who could really give it, because He could take her consequences on a cross of wood for all time. It is the only forgiveness that wipes all consequences clean, a love great enough to free us from any prison.