I loved the Joseph story - and that he wailed in the palace when his brothers came to visit him. I loved the story of Lot's wife turning into salt when she looked back. I loved Sarah laughing. I loved Jacob's ladder. I loved the friendship of David and Jonathan. I loved Ruth. I adored Esther. I loved Solomon. I loved Samuel. I loved Moses. I loved Eve. I loved Rachel. I loved Joshua. I loved Hosea. I loved Daniel. Who can forget Samson?
It took me awhile to transition through the Bible. I probably enjoyed the stories of the bible characters way too much. I loved the literal battles of good and evil.
Each character was a story. Each character was a "life lesson."
And then there were the metaphors - the story of the people roaming in the desert for 40 years was such a comfort to us when we roamed in our own wilderness for 33 years. There was the giant, Goliath, and we have often felt we were meeting our Goliath.
There is the serpent on a pole, and the fiery furnace. There is the writing of the ten commandments , the golden calf - the consequences always dire and the lessons learned always inspiring.
I often indulged in the story telling myself, enhancing the OT stories with my own story behind the story - such fun.
Then Candace was murdered, and I was propelled into the New Testament.
One of my first new insights was when writhing in emotional pain that first night, I was reminded that God, too was a parent of a murdered child. If anything he understood. The curtain in the temple was ripped apart the day his son died.
A year later - when I faced my own "mother guilt" - I truly understood the the reason for the promise of salvation at the foot of the cross.
I have to admit until then I thought I was pretty good. I wasn't plagued with guilt.
The experience of murder shifts everything. There is a new reality. Guilt - real or perceived - is an impossible burden to carry.
I remember when I met a lifer, who having heard my stories, whispered to me as I was passing. "I too believe in capital punishment." I stopped.
I just stared at him. He was wearing a trench coat, his longish hair was a bit greasy - his eyes fierce.
I didn't know that people hearing my stories would interpret one of them the way he did - that I believe in an eye for an eye - life for life, but I suppose I did.
"Then how do you live with yourself?" I asked. There was no time for niceties, the prison was shutting down even as we talked.
"I wanted to kill myself - and was on a suicide watch for a long time."
I nodded. I had heard that most lifers on entering prison are routinely put on suicide watch.
"And?" I waited.
"And then I realized that there is a cross --I don't have to die. Someone died for me."
I didn't sense in him a false sense of religion as a ploy for rehabilitation. There was still a remnant of pain in his eyes - so similar to how I felt about my guilt.
That's the theme of the New Testament, of Jesus coming... the essence. He has the power to turn evil into good. He is the forgiveness message that allows us to walk through this guilt ridden, crazy world - and still retain a spirit of rest and peace.
Jesus Christ Is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I've also always imagined him to be the blood red potion, a liquid that when applied can heal, sterilize and sanctify anything it touches. He can still the storms, walk on water and make plants bloom. He heals the broken heart.
“Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger.” - Ben Okri