I arrived at the courthouse early as usual and found a spot in the hall to stand and hold up the wall near the already filled waiting room. I was on top of the world. There was no one I needed to be cautious of, no one to keep my eye on, no one to stare me down. I know that I was all aglow because people kept giving me the "What are you so happy about today?" look. I didn't care nothing was going to steal my joy today.
That was until I heard that awful sound...yes, the clanking of chains as the elevator opened (See My Day in Court). Out came a line of young teenage boys cuffed and chained together at the ankles. I was here again on "Delinquent Day." No matter how many times I've heard and seen this over the last three years, it is still just as awful as the first time I heard and saw it. I immediately began to pray for each one of these boys to feel the love of God, for them to know Jesus, and for the Spirit to pour out the graces they needed to change their future.
As they entered the court room, I witnessed first hand how those boys probably got to this point. I saw a young girl of about 12 treated so badly by an older girl. The lady with them kept trying to referee between the two. At one point she tried to remind the older girl that she had been that age once. But the older girl mumbled under her breath about not being like that and told the younger girl that she got on her last nerve. The older lady spoke up again to which the older girl replied, "I can talk to her however I want. I'm her momma." At this point, my heart sank.
I had watched the hurt and shame in this little girl's eyes all morning each time the "mother" that I thought was an older sister spoke to her. She would turn her head towards the wall and hide her face. At this point I begged God to intervene for this little girl. I begged Our Blessed Mother to wrap her arms around this little girl and her young mother. I pleaded with Jesus to reveal His love to them and teach them how to love. I prayed over and over for this mother and child.
Once again, the clanking of chains came. Again, it was a group of very young teenaged boys. This time there was another mother pointing them out to her teenaged daughter while telling her that that was going to be her very soon. I wanted to scream at these mothers. I wanted to tell them that their daughters were created by God and that He loved them no matter what and that they should too. I wanted to grab these girls and hug them and tell them how much Jesus loved them and that they were everything to Him. I wanted to load them all in my car and bring them home with me. And again I prayed for God's mercy and love to pour out on these people.
I wondered if any of these kids had anyone to show them love, to tell them that it's OK to mess up, that God was there to forgive them, to show them forgiveness, to help them get back on track. I wondered if these parents had ever felt love before and if they knew how to give it. Did anyone ever tell them how much God loves them and cares about them? I felt so hopeless watching generation after generation of anger and hate fill this room.
A few moments later a man and grandmother came to stand beside me. I overheard the excitement in their voices as they confirmed to each other that everything was going to be alright. I saw the smiles on their faces when the bailiff confirmed that "he" was indeed in the building and was in the holding room on another floor. This father and grandmother were there just to get a glimpse of this boy and to show him love and support as he entered the courtroom. As I bowed my head to thank God for that little bit of hope, I noticed the man was holding a Bible in his hand. I smiled, "Yes, there was hope for one of these boys."
Later in the morning, a very nice young lady came to help hold up a wall in the hall across from me. We began to chat after realizing that our boys shared a lawyer when the lawyer came to inform both of us to be prepared for a long day. We laughed with each other about how after our very first court day, we knew to plan on being there the entire day. She was another foster mom that was nearing the end of the first process and anxiously awaiting the move to "adoption." We chatted until a lunch recess was called. We joked about being the first ones back after lunch to get a seat on one of the few benches in the waiting area. And of course, we were the first two lined up waiting to go through the metal detectors.
I took a seat and opened my book, but was distracted by my new friend's fidgeting. Finally, she got up and crossed the room and asked about a young boy that had just gotten up. Then she took out the photo album that she had showed me earlier this morning. She asked if it would be OK to show it to the boy when he returned. The lady agreed.
When the young boy returned, he sat and viewed the pictures of this baby. He smiled at each one. Tears welled up in my eyes knowing that this was the "father" that would be giving up his rights later this afternoon. He was no more than a kid himself. Another kid who had no one, but the two state workers that escorted him to the courthouse. He returned the album politely and then returned to reading the newspaper and chatting with one of the officer.
I buried my head into my book before my heart could break any more. I wondered why God had me here again on "Delenquent Day". Didn't He know how much this kills me to watch? I looked down at my book, Full of Grace by Johnnette Benkovic, and began to read:
Like Mother, Like Daughter: Called to Be Intercessors
Just as Mary, our Spiritual Mother, intercedes for each one of us before the throne of God, we, too, are to intercede for the needs of the world....The effective intercessor is one who accepts the mission...
In Ezekiel 22, God list for the prophet the many crimes of Jerusalem: sexual promiscuity, usury, a disregard for the dignity of the human person, godlessness, and murder. But then God says something to Ezekiel..
And I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favour of the land, that I might not destroy it: and I found none.
(Ezekiel 22: 30)
...God is looking for people today to stand in the gap and make intercessions for the needs of the world.At that, I closed my book, I knew then why I was called to wait three hours in the waiting area again on "Delinquent Day" for my three minute review hearing. And now I beg you to join me interceding for these young people, their parents, their children, and their future---our future depends on it.