I saw a commercial the other day. It came on during one of those cooking shows. The video showed families working together in the kitchen. They were laughing. They were crying. They were spilling things. They were hugging each other. And the narrator said, “Life happens in the kitchen.”
On the radio, I heard another commercial. A father and his son were engaged in a deep conversation. Suddenly, the boy told his father goodbye and you hear a car door shut. The narrator said, “Life takes place in the family car.” Then the ad talks about buying cars.
In truth, life takes place everywhere that people with beating hearts breathe air.
But, the ads are talking about more than physical existence. They are appealing to that longing that all of us have for rich, meaningful life experienced with people that we love.
So, I wondered. Does life happen at the courthouse?
Certainly there is joy here. On Wednesday I went to Zebulon to attend the Pike County Grand Jury. While I was there a man and a woman and two young children went into the judge’s chambers and they shut the door. When they came out, it was clear that something special had happened. The boys had just been adopted. They now had parents. Life had happened.
Some days I look out the window at the fountain in front of the Fayette County Justice Center. When I see flowers and girls in pretty dresses and a man in a suit and a smiling woman in a long white gown, I know that life is happening.
Frequently I see people pacing in the courthouse halls. They gaze at the floor. There is pain on their faces. Maybe they are about to be divorced. Maybe their loved one is going to prison. Broken dreams abound. And life is happening.
Every once in a while I see a widow or widower come in the front door of the building. Often they have a lawyer with them. When they turn toward the Probate Court, I know that it’s time to probate the will. Life happens around here even after another life has ended.
In my work I have the opportunity to help people in pain. Crime victims may be angry. Often they are nervous. More than you might imagine, they exhibit an amazing trust as they seek justice. And, from time to time, they astound me with their forgiving spirits.
More often than not, the victims help me as much as I help them. Part of it is the satisfaction of serving another. But, another part is the inspiration of watching people who have been wronged get back on their feet and live.
So, yes. Life does happen at the courthouse.
Scott Ballard is the District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which consists of Fayette, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties.