Sunday, March 02, 2008

60 minutes

If I really reflect on my time and the things that happen in some very short space of it, I am truly amazed. The minutes pass by so very quickly and I forget even by nightfall or quicker what happened in the day. But yesterday, packed into the space of one hour of prison volunteering, more happened than my mind could comprehend.

I come without expectation and pray always that I'm used in that time however I need to be. I saw a parking spot right by the fortress and pulled up behind someone who was just getting out of her car. I stared for a second...it was another artist acquaintance of mine. I tried to quickly scan my mind as to why in the world she could be getting out of her car in front of the prison at 9 in the morning, and then I saw her face. She looked at me and a flicker of recognition came over it through the distress. I walked over to her, hugged her, asked what was going on-her son was arrested and she was terrified. I tried to calm her down, explained my own situation as we hurried up the stone steps to the front desk and told her to stay in touch.

I was already just a little nervous as usual-plus my partner was sick and so I was flying solo that morning through the series of metal doors. Male inmates were using the library area where our female 12 step group typically meets, so I had to set up in the GED room-not ideal. Guards continually walk in and out, it's noisy, annoyingly bright and seriously lacking in intimacy. It is hard to get the women to share openly in that situation, but they did. We went over Step 8, making amends, and got to talking about family, upbringing, parents...all of that. The sharing just blew me away. One woman was abandoned by both parents and the only stable adult she knew was a grandfather who was alcoholic and her drinking partner. Another was orphaned. Another was left by her mother, who moved to the West Coast and never sees her daughter. Call me old-fashioned, but behaviors like this don't even remotely cross my experience radar. Another was raised in a good home, but by the age of 20 has 5 children. Another was a college junior and fell into drug use. One young lady was visibly pregnant. How do you explain amends to women under the age of 30 with that range of relationship minefields?

After my hour was up, I walked out unable to even put a frame of reference around what I had just experienced. Believe it or not, one thing they did understand was a scripture in the old Testament book of Isaiah-"Come, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow..." I asked them what that meant to them, seeing that reasoning with God was a rather abstract concept. The one young lady said, "Oh, that means I can come to Him anytime with my problems and He'll listen". Whoa. I bet a Havard grad couldn't grasp that concept. What a world we live in. And that was only one hour.

5 Comments:

Blogger Noelle said...

Sue-Hi I am a Shawn Attwood supporter. I read on the commments of his blog that you are helping someone in Tucson do his own blog?? Would you let me know or us know when and where to find it?? I have someone in Tucson-he is getting out this month YEA!!!! But, I have grown soo attached to Shawn and his friends ... I am addicted for sure. Thanks and good luck to you and yours too!
Noelle

2:10 PM  
Blogger joannie said...

Hi Noelle-the man I'm helping is Shannon Clark. His blog is now on myspace (he started on blogger and I don't have that address handy). But his URL is myspace.com/clarksbarred. Well, I hope everything works out for you! Let me know if you have any trouble finding the blog. His snail mail address is on his profile. I'm sort of new to all of this and don't always know what I'm doing! Chuckle!

3:53 PM  
Blogger joannie said...

p.s. Found the old blog with a link to myspace: http://shannoninprison.blogspot.com

4:07 PM  
Blogger Noelle said...

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

5:18 PM  
Blogger Miss D said...

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8:16 PM  

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