Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness
By Michael Cannata
           Sister Agnes looked at the hardened faces of the men staring back at her in the group meeting. Each one of them had a heart of darkness. They displayed looks of anger and threat at the world around them. But, after years of working with them, counseling them and caring for them. she knew in her own heart, they weren't as hard as they looked. Many of them were behind bars more because of their circumstances than their character.

            Their stories would leave anyone with shivers of terror. They were among the most violent and dangerous men in the penitentiary, rapists and killers one and all. She knew that almost all of them had suffered more pain as children than they ever inflicted as adults. They were the lucky ones. They survived. Most of them did not kill accidentally; they had killed with brutal anger, savage cruelty and deliberate violence.

            Despite their horrible acts, inside, they were still children of God. Her job as counselor was to reach into those dark hearts and cast out the darkness so that the light of the lord might replace it.

            She was always amazed by the conflicting personalities that so many of the prisoners exhibited. Despite the fact that their crimes were vicious and heinous, many of the men displayed outwardly gentle and caring demeanors. Some were new arrivals and they were the ones that would be the hardest to reach; most however, had spent the greater part of their life behind bars and sincerely sought forgiveness.

            Sister Agnes was hard in her own right. She had grown up with fiercely strict and abusive parents. When the chance came to escape from her parents and join the church as a nun she leapt at the opportunity. She would get on her knees every night and give thanks to the Lord for giving her the chance to serve him. She wore a cross under her vestments that weighed at least five pounds. It was a burden that strained her back and cut into her neck. But she felt it weighed far less than the pain the Lord had saved her from.

            After years of ministering and study she got the chance to work with prisoners at the state penitentiary. She never feared any of them and the respect they showed her was better mannered than her average Sunday school class.

            Every week she led the group in therapy sessions. Hoping to get them to open their hearts; to honestly repent and beg for the Lord's forgiveness. That was all it took if they wanted to make their way into the Lord's kingdom. God forgave everyone who asked it of him. It was her job to identify with their anger so she could save their souls. To help them learn from her in the same way she had learned from them.

            Instead of lingering to talk quietly with those that had questions that were too personal to share with the group, she excused herself and hurried home after the session. Tonight she would be doing God's work and that was what she lived for. The homeless plumber she'd met at the church shelter would be at her house soon and she didn't want to be late. He needed the work and she needed his service. He arrived at the back door exactly as she instructed and she led him to the basement entrance.

            "The leak started out small, but I'm afraid it will get a lot worse if I don't deal with it now," she explained. "Thank you so much for offering to help."

            She showed him to the door that led down to the basement. As the man peered down the dark stairs, she smashed the sharp edge of the heavy crucifix against the back of his skull. She smiled as he tumbled down to the bottom and landed in a heap.

            She smiled in an almost radiant manner as she walked down the stairs and hit him again... and again. She believed that in order to truly understand the men she wanted to save, she had to experience the same emotions they held in their hearts of darkness. As she continued to strike him repeatedly, she thanked the Lord again for the chance to save and for the forgiveness he promised.

            The homeless man would now have a home in heaven with God. She could hardly wait until she joined them. But she had much work to do before that day. She knew that God was happy with her work and would look favorably on her when her time came.

            No heart was so dark that the lord wouldn't forgive it… even hers.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that gave me serious visuals, I'm not going down the cellar today lol.