Avoiding Eye Contact

Crazy day in court today . . . 10 court-appointed cases; won some, lost some.   Witnessed a lady flip out and have to be restrained by the deputies.  Saw the judge get upset and lecture a 91-year-old lady (who probably needed a stern talking to, like she got).  A police officer followed several witnesses from a case they watched out into the lobby where there was an altercation due to the reactions of the witnesses.

I was coming out from the jail area where I had visited a client about to stand trial and there was a different inmate at the bench for her trial.  She was a middle-aged woman and the judge was talking to her about her situation which included a history and present situation involving charges of prostitution.  As the judge noted in open court to her that prostitution presented the legal issue she was facing, her eyes cut over towards me and she then closed her eyes.  She was embarrassed.

I watched her face as the judge continued to talk to her up until the point that I was behind her and couldn’t see her expression any longer.  She had kept her eyes closed the whole time that I was able to see them, even answering a question with her eyes closed.  She was doing her best to block out the shame of her circumstances and didn’t want any reminders that other people could see her while they heard those things about her.

While I don’t know anything about her story and could be entirely wrong, I sensed that she knows a better Way.  I believed when I thought about her in court that her shame came from the knowledge of Truth.  If she had no knowledge of what life was like without prostitution and shame, she wouldn’t have avoided eye contact.  If this was all she knew, the shame would have given way to a cold, callous look without evidence of remorse.  It’s pretty common to see defendants stand in court without any evidence of shame at all.

It would be too easy to judge this lady but there are just too many things we don’t know.  We have no idea of the hurt or abuse she has been through.  We have no idea of the tragedy she has been through by victimization or terrible choices.  We have no idea what we would be like if we had lived the life she has lived.

Crazy day in court, today.  There was other stuff but this lady’s eyes are what I remember the most.  The futile attempt to block out the judgment of others because of the self-condemnation.  At the same time, my belief in her knowledge of Mercy gives me hope that her shame will not be the end of her story.  Maybe her self-awareness showing up as shame is an indicator that there is enough of her true identity breaking through that Redemption is on the way.  As long as there is an opening for Redemption, then there is Hope.


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