(From Twelve Pearls for the King)
The waves roll mightily in the prison one night, and one of the young men falls on his knees to the floor, weeping and saying, “I give up, God. I don’t want to sin anymore.” Other inmates are sobbing and holding their faces in their hands. The cleansing waters are in motion, and the tides are strong.
Iris turns and sees a pale and fragile looking young man weeping through glowing blue eyes. She sees images carved into his delicate little wrists. She places her right hand on his trembling shoulder and prays for him, and soon other young men gather around and place their hands on Daniel.
He has a tender spirit and such brokenness about him that Iris knows something terrible has happened to him, but she never asks any questions. She knows they will speak when their hearts are ready.
Daniel writes mystical poetry and declares without hesitation that he knows if death came to him tonight, he would be transported to Heaven immediately.
But he also tells the lady that he sometimes hears voices telling him to harm himself because he is not worth it. One night in particular, he saw red eyes staring at him in his cell, and then he imagined he saw a gash in his throat and blood flowing down his shirt. He began to cry for help, and staff came to see him in his cell, but they didn’t see anything.
Iris tells him that most people don’t accept the reality of a spiritual realm. She suggests that he might be having a reaction to some medication. She tells him to pray earnestly and read his Bible and to remember how precious he is to God.
Daniel comes in one day with new bloody images on his wrists, and some of his friends are with him and are pleading with him to stop cutting himself. Iris asks Daniel, “Are you a disciple of Jesus?”
“Yes,” he quickly replies.
“Have you asked Jesus how he feels about you hurting yourself?”
“Yes, I have.”
“What did He tell you about it?”
“He said that my body is the temple of the Holy Ghost and that I need to take care of it,” he says plainly.
“Then I hope you will obey His voice because you grieve Him when you disobey what He tells you.” Daniel hangs his head humbly and nods.
One afternoon, during a small prayer group, Daniel speaks up and says to the lady, “I learned something new this week.”
“Really, what was it?’
“I have been really studying and understanding the scriptures. Last night, I read the book of Genesis, the Book of John, and the Book of Acts. I have learned that as I come to an understanding of the teachings of Jesus, the demons don’t want to come around me anymore.” He smiles softly, and the lady is very comforted by this.
One night when the lady is visiting, Daniel reveals that his stepfather abused him for a long time. He says he has been struck in the back of the head with everything imaginable, including hammers, boards, and other objects. His stepfather is serving two life sentences for the abuse he inflicted upon Daniel and his mother. He asks the lady to mail a Bible to his mother. It always makes her sad when the inmates request blessings and gifts for people who have mistreated or failed to protect them. Daniel is only sixteen years old and has suffered more than any child should ever have to.
When the lady departs that evening, a young egret with a soft yellow crest and innocent eyes walks slowly by her in the parking lot. Iris looks in her car mirror before she drives away, and thinks she sees Daniel’s sad eyes in the reflection.