This is the third post in Linda Hartke’s Lenten series on her experiences wearing a GPS ankle monitor. If you’re just joining us, please start with Part 1.
It has been hard, wearing this ankle monitor for five weeks. It hurts, most of the time – especially if I turn a corner or pull out a chair which hits the device and causes it to cut in to my ankle or press into bruises. There are moments I forget that it is there, but more often I am acutely aware of it. Can people see it when I walk down the street or ride the bus? What will happen when I go through airport security (as I have several times) and have to explain it, and what will the people in line think of me? I was at a meeting recently, seated around a large, hollow conference table, when I realized that the device on my ankle was exposed – people saw it, but no one said anything.
The hardest thing has not been the discomfort of wearing an ankle monitor, but the glances and unspoken judgement of others. There is enormous stigma that comes with wearing such a device. Stigma is most commonly defined as a “mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person,” but its roots are in the Christian tradition and describe the marks left on Jesus’ body by the Crucifixion.
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?
Psalm 116:1-2, 12
Throughout my own Lenten journey, I have thought each day about the mothers from Central America who have faced such incredible violence, made horribly difficult decisions, and traveled thousands of dangerous miles in search of safety, only to be incarcerated with their children while they await an immigration hearing.
It is the “lucky” ones who are released in to the community to wait for their day before a judge, but this nation of immigrants treats them like the vilest criminals by placing a GPS ankle shackle on them and stigmatizing them even further in our local communities. These are brave women willing to take enormous risks to reach a safe place for their children. Why does America add to their trauma?
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.