Radvent Day 20 – Set Prisoners Free

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body.
Hebrews 13:3

“Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.”
Angela Davis

Many more will have to suffer
Many more will have to die
Don’t ask me why

Bob Marley, “Natural Mystic”

***

I looked across the field and behold; I saw a farmer. I could not make out what the farmer looked like, for mists obscured everything but faint outlines of trees and fruit dangling from the branches. The farmer approached the trees and touched the fruit. It swayed gently in the air from the gentle touch, swinging before falling to the fallow earth. 

The farmer examined the crop before forlornly leaving it to die. The farmer repeated the exercise at every tree, moving with ever greater sadness between each dying fruit. I could hear the farmer’s cries, the soul-crushing wails of a lost generation that never had a chance to grow. 

Decaying leaves barely crunched beneath my feet as I walked across the field to the trees. Staleness hung in the air along with the wisps of mists. The farmer had moved beyond the trees and stared into the distance. I stopped at the fruit and shook violently with horror at what I saw. 

Bodies. Overwhelmingly black bodies, with a smattering of other colors packed tightly in a gray bag. Their faces bore the marks of hopelessness, with eyes that had long ago lost their light. I ran from bag to bag and found the same horror at each one. My body revolted at the sight and stench of overcrowded bodies imprisoned in too small bags.

Gagging, I stumbled to the farmer who had not moved. We stood there silently, bearing our pain together. 

“Why do my people suffer so,” the farmer asked me softly.

I could not reply.

“Why do they stuff my people in bags and hang them to die alone,” the farmer asked me, softer this time.

Again, I could not reply.

“Why will they not allow me to grow anything in this field,” the farmer asked, this time with a voice barely registering as a whisper.

I stood there uncomfortably, squirming as the questions got harder and I could not provide the farmer with any answers. I had nothing do with the bagged bodies yet I still felt convicted, as if the farmer held me just as responsible as the ones inflicting the suffering.

With a gulp and a stammer, I finally summoned the courage to respond, “I don’t know.”

The farmer sighed before turning to me. The farmer’s face radiated with pain and anger. The mists and bodies suddenly gathered towards the farmer and transformed into a shroud of darkness. I cowered in fear. 

“Until you free my people, none of you will be free!” a voice boomed. 

Suddenly, the farmer vanished along with the mists and bodies. I trembled while lying on the hard ground. Only the barren trees, dying leaves, and the farmer’s words remained. And I wept.


Gregg S. Hunter II serves as a hospital chaplain at Advocate South Suburban Hospital. Gregg identifies as Baptist. He graduated from Davidson College and received his Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary. Among many hobbies, he enjoys reading and writing short stories.

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