I Found Your Secret Prison

By Cindy Koch

I am unexpectedly forced into a darkness. Looking around, I see only black. Exposed in the invisible room, I shrink at the cold echo of my own hollow footsteps. The aroma of a musty, dirty, forgotten box suffocates my quickened breath.

But there are slivers of light that cut through this deep darkness. I am drawn to the misty glow of an outside world. Halfway peering outside to catch a moment of Facebook happiness and Instagram sparkle, straining to see the famous ghosts that flitter by, I’m hypnotized by the bright lies beyond this dark cell.  But I’ve learned there is only a world of murderers and zombies behind these metal walls and flashes of false promises.  And so I wait, trapped in a train-car tomb of death.

When my eyes fail and my strength fades, I shrink away from the outside illusions down into the dim prison. Exhausted by the meaningless routines and failed answers, beaten down by disappointment and anger, starving for love and friendship, wounded by hateful words, and stung by death, I curl into a gritty pile of dirt on the floor. But I sense that I am not alone. As empty as the silent shadows feel, a heavy air presses against my skin, and I know there are others trapped inside with me.

And then I see a little more. Figures crawl out from the darkness as my eyes adjust to the absence of light. I see frustrations. I see struggle. I see disappointment. I see failings. I see you. I found your secret prison.

We are a group of wanderers captured in a rusty metal train car with blood-stained shirts and hair drenched with sweat. We lived together outside of this box. We even walked along the paths of that lifeless world. But now it is clear who we are. An unlikely family has been forged in these shadows, breathing in the darkness, right next to you.

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A grandfather, a bartender, a dad, a gamer, a politician, a mother, a pastor, a German monk, a student, a musician, a weightlifter, a reformer—a great cloud of Jagged voices surrounds you in the darkness and says, “They are gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out.”

“Find out what?”

I look around again and see this group of wanderers standing shoulder to shoulder, captured in the rusty train car with blood-stained faith and lives drenched with water and Word. We lived together outside of this box. We even walked along paths of a lifeless world. But now it is clear who we are.

“They’re screwing with the wrong people.”

Welcome to the family.

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