“Only Loki was not a fighter. Only Loki stood at the sides and laughed, a laughter more deadly to the self-important gods than any sword or spear. No wonder they had chained him.” –M.D. Lachlan
Loki worshipped with us on Monday. He is new. His first week behind the bars and barbed wire of the prison he now calls home. He is thoughtful and calm, giving little attention to anything but the person before him, a gentle nudge that seems to say “I am here, see me.”
Loki lives, for now, in a prison cell with his friend B. Where B goes, Loki goes. And so when B comes to the weekly Episcopal Eucharist, Loki comes too. He takes up residence, stretching his long body out behind an old metal desk that we’ve pushed to the side to make space for our circle. With patience he waits as we read, and sing, preach and share holy bread and grape juice. Loki makes no requests for treats or holy blessings, but I can’t help it, I offer him one anyway. Despite my brand specific preference for Black Labs, Loki gives me pause.
The service ends and I make my way to Loki. There is an innate kindness and sadness in his eyes that makes me it even harder to leave these prison walls. B and I talk about life and her week. We talk about Loki too. He is the calmest of her charges. B tells me I can take him home if I want. “He deserves good people.” I am honored that I pass her litmus test as one qualified to share a life with such a beloved friend.
The sun begins her descent and it is time for the three of us part. I am struck, and not for the first time, at the space between us. While I may enter, I do not stay. B and Loki live beyond the walls where I am welcome, beyond the walls of safety and freedom. They live in a world of chains and buzzers and slamming doors. I want to cross the chasm. But I can not. Yet Loki does. With that mystical power that comes from being something other than human, Loki makes a home amid the shackles and chains, the bars and wires that, if we’re honest, terrify us. Loki has no such fear. He sees past B’s crime, into the kindness that her hands and heart offer him. Loki sees the goodness in me too. He bumps up against me. “I don’t have any treats, I’m sorry buddy” I tell him. “That’s okay,” says B. “He doesn’t want treats. He wants you to pay attention, to love him. It’s all he cares about.” I scratch his head one last time before the guard escorts me through the gates.
Outside I watch the sunset, struck by the beauty of the rays that bounce off and illuminate the wire and gate. There is hope, even in those places that look like the end. There are no limits for where Love will go. I turn the key in my engine, take a final look back, and begin the long drive home.