Andersonville

AndersonvilleA couple years ago on a clear winter day, I found myself at the Andersonville Confederate prison near Americus, GA. Walking alone over open ground that once confined over thirty-thousand men, I was overcome by a sense of unbearable need. Andersonville was a pit of disease, starvation, and hopelessness. Only the stench was free, and it traveled as far south as Americus, over fifteen miles away. From a hill overlooking the prison grounds, the movement of the population took on the appearance of a single organism.

The design of Andersonville included a stream running through its heart. The inflowing water was to be used for drinking and the outflow for waste, but during the harsh months of summer, the stream became little more than a diseased bog. Looking down at the cracked mud, I thought how much we all have in common with the prisoners that once called this place home. Afraid and desperate for healing and wholeness, we grope through what all too often feels like an unfulfilling and meaningless cycle of existence.

Yet not without hope.

My mind wandered up from the mud, and I saw the dried stream coming back to life. At first there was only a trickle, but little by little the waters began to rise. A sound pounded against the outer wall until it could be held back no longer. Giving way to greater force, the wall was undone, and the river of life that flows from the throne of God entered in.

Seeing that the water was both deep and pure, I jumped in along with the other starved and desperate prisoners. Tears disappeared with the swimming. That which was broken was restored to wholeness. We drank deeply.

* Revelation 22 : 1-2