By Stephen Gregory, Epoch Times | February 18, 2015
While she was in prison, a thought kept running through her mind: will the world ever know what happened here?
Everyone remembers how quiet it was. Everyone just breathing the air as if one could drink in traces of oceans and steppes and the Himalayas. Beyond the cell blocks and guard towers, vast clouds were tumbling across the horizon, and even patches of grass and tiny white flowers seemed to be waving toward the heavens.
Spontaneously, softly at first, a young religious prisoner began to sing a spiritual hymn in a spacious falsetto. Normally the hardened criminals would stop her and make her assume the airplane position for such an infraction. Yet looking out at a world they could not attain, the criminals stood reflectively listening as the religious prisoners in the other cells began to sing along. And as they reached the chorus, the young religious prisoner’s voice swelled and trilled …
“Coming from far away, again and again, I come for you, I come for you…”
…and the hardened criminals joined in. Tentatively at first, then loudly, with great spirit. And as the chorus drew near again…
“…I come with love for you.”
…they began crying. Then everyone was. Across seven cells.
Then the guards said, “Okay, okay, get back inside.” And everyone did. And the guards locked the steel gates and never opened them again.
I saw one of the women who told me that story quite recently. Jing Tian lives in Vancouver with her husband (who had also been incarcerated for his beliefs). Instead of dwelling on the past, we celebrated in a hot, crowded, and noisy hotpot restaurant where we ate endless plates of lamb and told jokes until my stomach hurt. But Jing said one serious thing that stuck with me. While she was in prison, a thought kept running through her mind: will the world ever know what happened here?
Those who sing songs that no one can hear will justifiably ask that question. Yet Jing is not full of bitterness. Jing is full of hope. As the women in those seven cells were, if only for a moment. So let us pause, from our steaming hot pot, our jokes, our politics, and our differences, and let us hear their song, and reaffirm, if only for a moment, that faced with the promise of Spring, perhaps we are not strangers at all.
Ethan Gutmann is the author of “The Slaughter,” currently available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Random House.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Epoch Times.
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