A Letter to my Nephew in Prison
Last December my 28 year-old nephew was caught, over the internet, attempting to seduce a 12 year old girl. It was revealed in the ensuing investigation that he was also having an affair with another girl of 14. My nephew is a very bright guy with a winning personality. He was valedictorian of his high school class and a popular teacher and basketball coach. His family is deeply hurt. His wife of 16 months has left him. His mother and father are heart-broken. At least two young girls and their families have been traumatized. My nephew will never teach or coach basketball again. It has not yet been determined how many years my nephew will spend in prison. This is a letter to him.
Right now things look pretty dark. You have done some things that have negatively impacted the lives of a lot of people. Your Mom and Dad are wretched in their suffering. Children and their families have been damaged. I am sad and disappointed. You have effectively scuttled your life. Yet, there is reason to hope. What is that hope? Where is there light in this darkness?
First of all, we all continue to love you and want the very best for you. I have not talked to anyone in the family who judges you. I certainly do not. So how can we find hope in this situation? There is a very old story, a parable really. In the story a man, who is tilling a field finds a pearl of great value. The man went and sold everything he had so he could buy the field and claim the pearl. What is the pearl? The pearl is the source of your life, nephew. It is the life at the core of your being. It is the Life at the core of all Being. The pearl has been called many names through the ages. It has been called the Tao, the Great Spirit, the True Self, the Mother Goddess, God the Father, Yahweh, Adoni, and the Spirit of Life, just to name a few. I'll just call it the Pearl. Right now your job is to till your field so that you can unearth your pearl.
So, what does it mean to till your field? The field is you as you exist as an historical person in this here and now. Your field, as does everybody's field, needs tilling. You need, as everyone does, to examine your life. You need to set your plow deep. You need to dig yourself up and look at yourself. Here is what I think you will find. I think you will find your common humanity. You will discover that your mistakes and sins are everyone's mistakes and sins. Putting it bluntly, you are nothing special. Everyone has compulsions that are used to mask the pain of unrealized life. Your compulsion just happens to be an attraction to underage girls. It could just as well have been addiction to food, TV, drugs, work, or religion, to name a few. If your way of masking pain had been work, you might right now be making a lot of money and looking out the window of a corner office. You would, however, be no less spiritually bereft than you are now.
Here is the good news. The moment you decide to set your plow is the moment when life will turn around for you. The Pearl with all its resources and wisdom becomes available to you. Now don't get me wrong. Plowing is painful work. Remember Jesus said, "The one who puts his hand to the plow and then turns back is not fit for the kingdom." You will be constantly tempted to turn back and return to your old ways of being. One of the first things you will learn as you till your field is compassion. You will learn compassion for yourself and compassion for others. As you unearth your compassion, you will understand why you cannot have sex with young girls.
There is more good news. As you till your field you will one day realize that not one second of your life has been wasted. No matter how much of your life you spend in prison you will know that real vitality and freedom come from your Pearl. You will come to realize that there are many people walking around on the 'outside world' that are slaves and captives. A man can be free in a prison cell. A man can be a slave in a penthouse suite.
So, nephew, find your Pearl. Till your field. Live.