Sunday, June 12, 2011

Prisoner of the Glass House

I have a friend who is a part of a group of people journeying through a recovery process after coming out of a religious cult. In 2009, he wrote the following (Thank you, Micah):

My family went from ordinary homeschooling to ATIA when I was 8 years old, along with moving to a very rural area, another pregnancy, Dad leaving his job and starting his own business... At age 14 I was given the choice to literally burn to ashes my life's dream, or have a parent do it for me. So I set the fire...... And cried, alone. I cried once more at 17 (also alone) watching my mother descend into mental/nervous breakdown in front of us. I displayed almost nothing, a few months later, when she pulled a large kitchen knife in a disagreement with my sister.

I was plenty 'tough' for OK TC life on Characterlink's staff. Only I had this crazy, touchy-feely coworker named Matt Jensen, who came from a broken home, checkerd past, college, once had a live in girl friend... And actually FELT something with God when he prayed! It took six months for us to even get close enough for meaningful conversation. Let alone for him to introduce me to the God he knew, through The Holy Spirit...
I could describe in detail some of the crazy stuff that I experienced the night Matt and I prayed, and I asked for 'the overflowing presence of The Holy Spirit'. And we could argue theologically ad infinitum. But there I was, laughing, sobbing, in front of a guy I barely got along with, babbling it all back to a God that I all of a sudden like calling 'Father'.

A couple of years ago, I finally revisited where I'd been to write the story in poetry. I doubt this story is mine alone.

Prisoner of the Glass House

"Don't throw stones" said the sage so well
"If in a house made of glass you dwell"
But a different tale I think he'd tell
If he'd been raised in my crystal hell.


I never felt a breath of wind
No rain, no snow, no sleet
Not even a pebble to stub my toe
No grass to stain my feet.

What secret sin could I commit
In this prison where every inch is lit
And the world can see every time I spit?
While an inch away my inquisitors sit
Peering into my prison of glass.

Prisoners all, through the walls we stare
Quick to judge and unable to share
With our hearts concealed and our actions bare
In our spotless palace of glass.

So our deeds eschew what our minds embrace
We dare not go where our feelings race
Shouting 'TRUTH', a path of lies we trace
And 'holy' we call the best poker face
In this twisted dungeon of glass.

Kept alone by walls we dare not break
Enslaved by chains that we will not shake
Entombing our hearts where the will not break
Immune to the love that we try to fake
Frozen fast in our cell blocks of glass.

In this sterile world, with its pristine curse
My charade grew better and my heart grew worse
Long prayers poured forth from a soul half dead,
My heart dreams crash round me, their wings made of lead.
But I helped build this prison myself.

Yet through our halls one man walked free
Blemished past laid bare for us all to see
Free to hug and to laugh, get annoyed, even cry
If this life was human, then zombie was I.
And TRAPPED in this prison of glass!

Of the touch of his God I heard him tell
And it tossed a rock through my crystal cell
A rock called hope touched my vacant shell
While around our heads, in shards it fell,
That hideous prison of glass!

So I told him my life's tale in all its woe
Fear slave of the God I didn't know
Choking back the emotion I couldn't show
Dreaming of places I dared not go...
Yes, THIS was my prison of glass!

My 'God' was a bully who'd take me to task
His, a gentleman friend-- whom I'd only need ask
And choking up sobs that for years I'd held bound
I begged 'Him' for whatever this friend of mine found.

And I felt rushing LIFE where before-- only glass!

I sob, I laugh, I babble thanks
As walls collapse of rage and angst
My God-- no more in black and white
In livid colors, warmth and light.
My prison's shattered-- I have flown.

And if as we walk through this earthly veil
At an unseen wall you see me quail...
Rejoice when that relic I finally pass through.
To my newest found freedom raise your glass (or two).

For a ruin is all that remains today
Of my hideous prison of glass!

And if one day as I've left these shards
I meet one trapped in his house of cards
Then joy from my broken heart I'll show
And a rock through his glass prison wall I'll throw.

That the God who is LOVE
We can feel, we can know
I was once past feeling,
I know,
I know!

Micah Kohler-- 7/21-8/4/09


Robin said...

Wow. This is so powerful. Thank you so much for writing this, Micah, and for sharing it, Donna!

Elizabeth said...

I was a co-worker of Micah's, and Matt was my "boss." I remember when Micah & Matt had that talk.... of course I didn't know all of Micah's struggles, but I do know that after that, he was happier. Matt definitely was a "free spirit," and totally not a "model ATI student." Yet I'm very honored to have worked under him - it's taken me longer to get to where I am, but I'm beginning to see just how "good" Matt was even though he wasn't a "good" ATI student.... I know I still have a lot to work through & a lot to learn, but I appreciate Micah's honesty in a deeper way since I knew him at that time!