THE REAL PRISON
Chaplain Allen Tanner
Society often reads about correctional facilities and inmates, but many fail to understand what a prison really is. You see the real prison is not the one the outsiders know.
The real prison is different. It's a loneliness, which sinks its teeth into the very souls of men. It's a prison, which is overlooked and unrecorded by newspapers, seldom read about in books, rarely portrayed on the screen; it is a place where people strive to find themselves. It's a place of both hope and hopelessness, the drama of people paying a debt for years, knowing that their debt can never be paid in full. It's a million dreams that never can be fulfilled. It's too many tears without laughter, too much emotional darkness without light. It's a routine that makes living a weary task.
The real prison is more formidable than high walls, fences, and iron bars. It's the bitterness of being without friends; it's the unhappiness of an undisciplined life. Where discipline is neglected, life wanders into bondage--bondage to habits and things that dictates life's direction.
The real prison is a world that does not listen to the cries of many who are begging for friendship. It is a place where people live whose very existence has been forgotten by a world that is unable to accept them...a world that shouts contempt for the mixed up, fumbling society of misfits that are held in its grip.
The real prison is where a worried mothers face studies the face of a son who was once her pride and joy; her heart broken because drugs are destroying him, and there is nothing she can do about it. It’s when a loving grandmother lies silently in her bed at night, crying with a prayer in her heart for the wayward granddaughter she loves and cherishes, It's the constant thought of a friend who has failed you.
This is the real prison. No bars of steel, locked doors, or fences. A person is in a real prison when he forgets that there are other people in this world beside himself, and that they need to be respected also. A person is in a real prison when he cannot be honest with those who believe in him. When a man cannot seek forgiveness, serenity, and peace, and becomes to blind to see God's goodness around him, then that man is in the real prison, because you see, The Real Prison is within the heart of the man
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