so, i spent most of today sitting in a courtroom in my freshly pressed suit. the last time i put it on was at a funeral. i felt the same anxiety that i felt back then. drycleaning can’t get that out. i watched from the second row as defendant after defendant approached the bench, head down, reluctant to make eye contact with the judge, murmuring lame excuses about why they were speeding, or ran that red light, or had expired tags, or didn’t have a vaild license. as the time ticked by, the knot in my stomach grew. the judge was getting tired and agitated with the constant string of excuses. he started quipping snide remarks to the baliff (whose name, incidentally, was deputy estrada). finally my turn came. i approached the bench and pled guilty to my charge of speeding, knowing that no excuse i could muster would satisfy this judge. i should have just paid the fine weeks ago. he took a moment to consider me and then, with no explanation, he reduced my charge to the lowest possible fine. ‘you owned up to it’, he said. and then i was free to go. that, my fellow sojourners, is an object lesson in grace. this man had every right to make me pay the perscribed penalty for my lawlessness. however, he chose not to do that. now, all of a sudden, i can better understand the places in the bible where it talks of a final judgment. you can say that it’s fancy symbolism and explain it away, but i really think that, at the end of the day, we’re going to appear in a traffic court in the sky. our only plea will be guilty and our punishment is to be banished into utter aloneness. however, for those of us who believe that our punishment has already been paid, we will be given the right to turn around and walk out of that courtroom and into life. now, that makes me want to do all i can to make sure my wrap sheet is as short as possible.