JM Im, Korea
A small, confined room surrounded by gray cement walls, iron gates which shut tight with a clunk, windows with dense iron bars, a man who gets sunlight coming in through the bars while curling up in the corner. . . . These are the scenes that come to mind when we hear the word “prison.” It was a police officer that I was most afraid of in my childhood days. Whenever I begged for or complained about something, the adults in my family would scare me by saying that a police officer would come and take me to a prison. I used to be frightened to hear that a bad child would be sent to prison where the most terrible people in the world were gathered.
Recently, however, I read an article that broke up my stereotype about prison. It was the article about an overseas prison. It was so different from other prisons that I even doubted if there would really be such a place. Its luxurious outer appearance reminded me of a high-class hotel, and each room had a comfortable bed, bathroom and TV. The building was even equipped with additional facilities such as a library, theater, restaurant and hospital and so on. In the restaurant, prisoners can eat soup and vegetables according to their taste. When they go out of the building, they can see a trail with verdant lawns and trees. There was nothing lacking. When I took into consideration the fact that it was a prison, that was a place filled with things even more than necessary.
People’s response to this was very cold. “Aren’t they more comfortable than ordinary people?”, “It doesn’t make sense that there is such a good prison”, “Is it really a place where criminals go?” Most people gave negative opinions. One of the prison officers complained, “Too much freedom was given to the criminals.” Reading many comments about it, I also thought that they should receive the treatment and punishment they deserved for their sins. Soon, however, I felt like someone had punched me in the head. Spiritually, I was also a sinner who should be punished for my sin. When I look around me, there are mountains and seas, rivers and fields, even an invisible wind. . . . Looking at the magnificent view of nature, I let out an exclamation of admiration in spite of myself. Various flowers and plants bloom and wither every month, and there is nothing useless—not even a small piece of gravel that gets stuck in my foot. All sorts of living things grow on the land and in the sea, and they bring forth abundant food in their season. So, is there anything lacking?
The earth where I live on is such a beautiful place where the sinners, who were driven out from heaven after committing high treason against God, are not even worthy to stay. All those things exist for us, sinners. Among countless planets in the universe, it is only on this earth that we can find the providence of nature given by God. So, I realize that it is evidence of the grace of our Heavenly Parents who love and care for us so much even though we are such rebellious sinners. When the cold north winds blow, They cover us with a cotton wool blanket. When the sun is hot, They cast the shadow of a tree over us. All this comes from the love of Heavenly Father and Mother.
Though I was a sinner who could never be forgiven, our Father and Mother did not leave this child in a dark and cold place, but They Themselves have made this earth with Their burning love that can even melt iron bars. Father and Mother, I give You thanks with all my heart for Your love that reaches even to this city of refuge.