When I received the summons in the mail it seemed to be an incredibly short time away from the original date on the statement. Feeling a mild inner panic I reviewed in my mind how I simply didn’t take that short walk to the mailbox, or how the post didn’t deliver it to me on time. Regardless of the journey this very powerful little document took, I found it in my hand and it was mine. My name had been called and it was my time to serve.
It is a fearful thing to be called. There is a great pull of responsibility directing your next steps. Everything is interrupted. Everything about you is set aside for a higher cause including your most important plans, or personal duties. It is disempowering and yet exhilarating. Your life turns from a hallway with no end to a detour. Doors open you didn’t even know were there.
I felt nervous on the morning I went to the motel in which the document directed me to go. I also felt refreshed from the change of plan. I took one step at a time. As I walked into the building the atmosphere changed. All the lifted covid restrictions pressed themselves back upon my shoulders. I didn’t stoop. I found myself in line. I pulled a mask out of my purse and put it on. Three tall police officer took my items and placed them into a plastic white container. They looked through my purse and jacket. As I walked through the scanner a lady to my right offered me a rapid test. I kindly declined.
In front of me were two ladies situated behind large plastic screens. One at a time we walked up in alphabetically appropriate lines to the right individual. I wasn’t on the list. I realized I didn’t read the summons correctly as it says to submit regardless of your request for exemption. The person directed me to sit in a chair in the space behind them. There were others. This was a slight relief. I wasn’t the only one. It was silent and serious. No one talked. If they did it felt out of place.
I sat there listening to a screener behind me as she asked the people coming in for proof of covid vaccination. I sat there pondering how I wanted to be chosen as a juror out of curiosity alone. One of the ladies walked up to me and handed me a white rectangular card with my name and identification number on it. She verbally acknowledged to me that she was aware of my wanting to be exempt. She said “it is only for three days.” I said thank you and proceeded to the screener. “I could handle three days” I thought to myself.
I showed her my QR code. Then she directed me into the very large ballroom to sit in the next empty chair. The weight of authority in the room was heavy like a 20 pound weighted blanket. People sat quietly in the chairs facing the front. It seemed as though no one was making any significant movements. One man in front of me was wearing a suit. He sat with his leg crossed reading an actual book. This peaked my curiosity and I wondered what He was reading. I spent a small amount of time pondering if I enjoyed real books to e-readers. I watched others as they made subtle shifts in position. Most bent their heads down to look at their phones. In response I intentionally sat up straighter and set down my phone.
At the front of the room was a person sitting in a chair with there left side facing the crowd of potential jurors. Large plexiglass walls loomed in front of the council. Facing the front, two council members sat on the right, and two other council members sat on the left. They were wearing black robes that flowed like superhero capes as they walked.
A judge came out to take her place on a raised seat at the front of the room. She introduced herself. She spoke of the accusations towards the plaintiff, and told us no one was allowed to leave the room without her permission. She discussed the importance of a democratic process and that the person being accused deserved to be tried by a council of his peers. They talked about various things from how the summons was part of our duty, and then explained possible exemptions. She mentioned that there were nine individuals who’s covid vaccination status was not identified. She asked the council if they should be released or asked to stand by. She even acknowledged the varying thoughts on the topic. One council member on the left stood up and said they should be asked to stand by.
A role was called. I raised my hand at the mention of my assigned jury number. The judge brought up the missing persons who had also been called to attend jury selection. She ordered them to be summoned once again, and in masterful tones reported that if no reasonable cause was to be provided to the court then an order for their arrest should be sent out.
Another lady stood at the front of the plexiglass between the judge and the council members. She clearly explained to the room how the process would go. She was to pick numbers randomly out of a bucket. If your number was called you were to proceed to the front. Then you would be given a chance to make your requests or to give your reasons to be excluded. With approval from the judge you could be excused from performing your civil duty.
In the midst of the intrigue and formalities a heavenly thread weaved itself throughout this summons day. As I sat there in that ballroom I felt the exhilerating tug of heavens authority pressing against me. In my imagination the ceiling above us opened up to the very throne room of heaven. The call of my name to a heavenly summons opened itself up to me. The reality of an eternity sitting above, around me, and within me caused me to pause. The weight of human authority paled in its comparison. It caused me to feel a respectful fear for the thought of that up and coming moment when my heart stops beating. As my number is called will I bravely step out of my body to perform the celestial duty of my soul? When will that time come? How will I feel at the disruption of my the path of my beating heart, my many plans, the expectations of my life, the needs of my family, work duties and the more I don’t even realize yet? Is there room to be exempt from heavenly service? Maybe like the jury duty summons heaven holds an exemption to leave open a door for miracles of the heart or for second chances?
I sat and watched as other individuals numbers were called. The numbers being called danced closely around me. As things progressed I felt slightly disappointed to not have been chosen. Yet, when the judge finally gave us permission to leave a great relief swept over me. As I exited the building a lady walking out beside me turned to me and said something along the lines of how we dodged that bullet. As I nodded in agreement I stepped outside and took a deep breath of clean air. With a renewed sense of appreciation I resumed my normal day.
Ecclesiastes 3:2 ~ A time to die.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 ~ Our bodies return to dust and our souls return to God.