The Zoo Cage Prophet

Germ War


Last updated 4/7/2020 at 2:19pm

My eye was swollen shut. It was still early, but I couldn't sleep. I'd been tossing and turning for what felt like hours. I was lying on my left side when I became aware that my left eye was not listening to my brain telling it to open. With my right hand I reached across to rub my eye open, and at that moment I felt the problem: bumps.

A nasty rash had broken out right under my eye and into my left eye's tear duct. Not only that, the rash had also invaded my lower-lip/upper-chin area. My left knee. My right armpit. My right ankle. And even a small part of the large bald spot on my head.

The Administrative Segregation Unit (aka, The Hole) is not a clean place. Not only do they send the filthiest (most troublemaking) inmates to it, they also send the oldest and dirtiest clothing and linen. Socks are stretched out, riddled with holes that allow toes to play peek-a-boo. T-shirts are saturated with the muskiest smells that only complement the dark rings around the armpits. Boxers, well, I would have to use language I despise to describe their condition.

All of those items, including a sheet and towel, are supposed to be white. However, Ad Seg's version of white is a shade of gray-brown, with a touch of yuck. One knows visually that the clothes are not properly cleaned, and that they have been worn by numerous men who have made the hole their home.

Those who know me well know that I have a big problem with germs. Yes, I'm an "A-1 Germaphobe." I hate germs! My clothing needs to be washed correctly, or I wash it twice. My hands can't go too long without having to wash them. I have all the classic symptoms of OCD when it comes to germs. I don't deny it. But I think the germ community also knows, for it took revenge the night I entered their kingdom-THE HOLE.

My body had been so accustomed to clean, sanitized clothing, linens and surroundings that it could not withstand the ambush awaiting it the night I arrived here. It only took a few hours for the germ army to launch an assault. My body quickly bore the fruit of the war.

I hate germs!

The attack, however, had to happen. In order for my body to fight back, my immune system had to kick into high gear. There was no ointment that could help. Only time could heal me. The nurse confirmed it when I requested to see her a few days later-only time would heal my rash.

I sit here, still in the Kingdom of Germs, looking back at that day. Time healed it, and my body has now adjusted itself to live—temporarily—in Germland. But I also sit here thinking back even further.

A little over 2000 years ago, Jesus the Messiah emptied Himself and came to this filthy, sinful world. Not knowing sin Himself, He had to bear the sins of the world, hanging on the cross, in order to pay for the deep debt owed by people. For three hours the land went dark and Jesus screamed, "My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?"

The stress and discomfort I felt due to my germ war was nothing compared to what Jesus suffered. I can't even begin to imagine the pain, loneliness and emptiness Jesus bore for our sakes-for my sake. For three hours, sin declared war upon His sinless Spirit and flesh, and for three hours He endured. No ointment could make it go away, only time. When it was finished He took that sin and conquered it.

It was finished.

As a long-time believer I, at times, forget the ugliness Jesus had to suffer to save me. I let my busyness numb me to the truths of that suffering. I place my spirit-life in a church-only bubble and forget about how I got there.

My rash problem reminded me that my body is not meant to live in filth, nor is my spirit. Praise be to God for making my clean spirit possible.

How about you? Have you thought about it recently? What the Messiah suffered was not easy, or pretty. Yet He did it for you.

Adrian Torres is incarcerated at California Institution for Men. Enjoy more of his writing at


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