I lie huddled on the floor, the stench of faeces and sweat engrained in the air. Six long months I’ve been locked up here. My crime was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know what they’re doing. The isolation, poor food and lack of exercise are designed to break me. Indeed The General visits every day.
“Are you ready to renounce God?” he says, his lips twisting like venomous snakes. “Are you ready to deny your Christ?”
To begin with, my voice was firm, my spirit strong, but recently I’ve struggled. It’s as though my soul has absorbed the blackness that surrounds me. I feel bleak, dull-witted and tired, and arguments circle like vultures in my mind, menacing. threatening. If I deny Christ I can get out of here. I can be a private Christian can’t I? God will forgive me, won’t He? I squeeze my eyes shut. I’m sorry for being so weak, Lord. I’m tired and ill ... and don’t know how much more I can take.
It’s like a whisper in my soul, the tiniest breath of movement. Open your eyes.
I linger for a moment, knowing nothing will have changed; then stretch them open, weary and drained. As I do so, a butterfly flits through the barred window and weaves gracefully towards me.
I’m shocked. How did it find its way in here? It should be outside, dancing across flowers, soaring and swooping in glorious freedom. Instead, it alights on my hand. I haven’t seen so much beauty since the day I was arrested. The butterfly has a velvet body and feelers that sweep in graceful arcs. It’s the wings that hold my attention, though. Feather-light expanses of shimmering powder, patterned with loops and whorls from palest yellow to richest gold.
The colours bring a flood of memories to mind. I see slices of lemon frosted with sugar, dabs of salty butter on hot toast, and heaped plates of scrambled egg. I remember the scent of a full blown rose and glorious daffodils nodding in the breeze. I imagine hunks of cheese, smooth and yellow, and succulent peaches in heavy syrup. I yearn to feel sand beneath my feet, golden ribbons that stretch to infinity, following sparkling seas and I think of sun streaming through windows, pouring over hills, spreading warmth and cascading light.
A scripture I once preached on comes to mind, And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. I gaze at the butterfly, imprinting the wash of colours on my heart. “You sent her didn’t You, Lord? You sent her to remind me that there’s so much more to life.”
The butterfly opens and closes her wings a few times and then she’s gone, flitting though the bars, back to the world she belongs in. I look down on my hand and in the dull light, I see a shimmer of colour, a mixture of yellow and gold, apricot and corn, ecru and citrus and something bursts in my soul.
“Guard!” I yell, my voice bouncing down stone corridors. “I’m ready to speak to The General.”
He arrives an hour later, a sneer plastered on poisonous lips. “You’ve something to tell me, I believe.”
I suck in a deep breath. “General,” I say. “Once and for all I want to tell you this.” I raise my voice and shout, a sound that reverberates down the halls of eternity; a light unfurling, darkness destroying, truth echoing, life releasing sound. “Jesus Christ is Lord of all!”
Scripture taken from Genesis 1:3 NIV
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