they promise you the world and then they give you an atlas

– a quote from Cory today, when talking about the christians who visit in prison… used with permission.

There is no hope in this prison, i decided on the way home. It’s a soulless, heartless godforsaken place where one can only smirk at faith and its illusions.

i listen to the stories of murky, tangled, complicated lives; of worlds that hold no – absolutely none at all – resemblance to mine; of hells-on-earth that end up with a simple label of armed robbery or serious assault; of stories told in a language which is fast becoming my second, of priors, records, convictions, pleas, appeals, paroles… of violence and hatred from birth… [i realise how easy it is to like these men in prison; i’m under no illusions i would outside].

and when we talk about what we believe in, there’s quibbling about the virgin birth and the resurrection, and the world of the demons, spirits and angels. when we talk of what gives hope, there’s silence.

i’d like to offer an easy way out from this, a way of looking at the world that makes it better… but today, for the first time, i feel i have nothing to offer. not even an atlas.

[and yet, from each of the men, as they say goodbye, after they’ve been telling me of all the reasons they have not to believe in God, i get a muttered plea, under their breath, ‘say a prayer for me’… ‘will you pray for me?’ … ‘remember me’.]

on the way home I turn the Shins up loud… they know of complicated lives. i sing along, but deep down i’m envious of the words they find to speak of them. i have none.

[i’ll feel differently tomorrow, so i’ll post this now to remember it]