Today is my birthday, my seventh in prison. More than any other day of the year, I feel the weight of the time I have lost, the years of my life I will never get back.
Time is priceless, yet it must be spent. It cannot be saved for later. These seven years are gone, spent in some of the many concrete and iron tombs that dot our countryside, spent struggling to make sense of fate and searching for meaning within the pain.
How were your last seven spent? Did you spend them in a way that reflects their scarcity and value, or were some of them wasted? How will you spend the next precious seven?
Even in prison I am faced with the same choice. Will I carry resentment or forgiveness in my heart these next seven? Will I succumb to despair or find ways to grow and flourish despite the confinement?
Every moment of every day, the choice is ours to choose life as it is, or pretend it is or should be some other way. It may be painful. It may be infuriating. It may seem utterly hopeless and ugly, but in this moment it is all we have, and we can love it if we so choose.
Choosing to love that which is unlovable transforms it, as it transforms you. It is proof that love is boundless and the highest of powers.
These next seven, I pray that we can transform a cold and dehumanizing system — one that has consumed far more than I have lost — with the power of love. I have yet to meet a person in the system — whether guard or prisoner — undeserving of love. We are all fully human, broken in our own ways, yet broken in the same way: by a lack of love.
Love does not throw life away. Love does not crush those beneath it. Love does not turn a cold shoulder or hold a grudge. Love is patient and kind. It seeks to understand and heal. Love is the key to our salvation, yet it cannot be forced or reduced to a system of rules. Love happens in that moment when you see the deep suffering of the world but keep your eyes open, when you are called to be brave and do what you can, to open your heart to others.
Love is — in my opinion — how we must spend the next seven. It is the highest value and it does not cost a thing. How will you spend the next seven?