I received my first summons for jury duty in Palm Beach County last November. It was to be my first experience with the legal system in South Florida since becoming a Florida resident eight months earlier. You see, my husband and I split our time between our homes down here on Singer Island and up north in our quiet neighborhood in Bel Air.
I had previously served on a jury about five years ago in Harford County, Maryland at the Bel Air courthouse. That presiding judge had asked me to be the foreperson, so I received the full legal experience in what turned out to be a rather difficult trial.
This time in Florida, though, I had to request a delay of service as we were set to go home to Maryland for holiday celebrations with our family and friends. The first date that I submitted for rescheduling my jury service was selected.
So last Monday morning found me among a pool of 340 persons reporting to the main courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach. And late that afternoon I was selected to serve on a jury for a trial. We were told to report back for duty the next morning ready to hear opening statements.
I did not sleep well that night. On my mind was the young person who would be on trial the next day. I was anxious about the difficult decisions that would be made by those of us on the jury. As the attorneys were fast to remind us during the selection process, a person’s liberty was at stake.
I was led the next morning to search for a suitable prayer that might help me put into words all that was on my heart. The blog, “Mr. Gobley: Seeking the Divine in the mundane — and celebrating it” provided exactly what I sought.
And though the references to bad food and grimy windows did not apply to my situation, the words of this prayer put my mind and heart at peace each morning before I left for the courthouse.
Perhaps the next time you are called to serve on a jury this prayer might bring peace to your mind as well.
O Just and Righteous Maker:
Today, as we begin the process
Of deciding the future course
Of a troubled life,
Be with us:
Be with us in the tedious hours
The breaks for bad food;
Let us sense Your presence
Beyond the grimy courtroom windows
And hovering above:
As there is judge and jury,
Prosecutor and defense,
So is there
Your patient Providence,
Which encompasses all of these,
Whatever the actions of the accused,
Whatever our decision,
Let not shattered lives
Be lived for naught.
And let those of us
Who have been brought together
To determine one person’s fate
Be to each other
On a journey
Toward the justice
You have always sought