Saturday, February 10, 2007

back to the block

Well, today was my first adventure into prison ministry. I was so nervous I couldn't sleep or eat breakfast, and was sure glad to have Pastor Phyllis with me. Our car ride to the place was fine, it was good to see her again, and we made sure we prayed outside the gates. Then we got in ;-)! Well, almost....I had an ID tag because I figured despite hearing two different things from two different prison chaplains, I'd better be well identified, because prison guards are by- the- book people, as they should be. But Phyllis did not have an ID tag, and I told her I was NOT going in there without her. The guard at the desk had to find the pastor list to make sure she was on it, and she had to go out to her car to get her license to prove she was the lady on the list. Then we were told we couldn't bring in the plastic water bottles she had called earlier regarding and was given the ok-by then I figured what more could go wrong. Still, I know, too, if you smile alot, say thanks alot, have plenty of ID and do what you are told, you are very likely to get in. (As opposed to breaking the law, which is another way to do it). We got in the "easy" way.

So there it is, or was. We found the room reserved for our 12 step and were told it wasn't announced prior. Ok. Well, it is important to have people coming to a meeting, so we again smiled alot, told the guard on duty why we were there, and he agreed to announce on the spot in the block that there was a women's Christian 12 step program starting. Good-knowledge is a good thing, a rather essential thing in this case. So we again waited...and waited...and here they came. Just as was the case in the movie, "Jaws" (I think we need a bigger boat), the women dressed in orange just kept coming, and coming and coming around the outside glass....I think we're going to need a bigger room, and I'm really scared now.

So there they were, quickly arranging the blue plastic chairs in a circle around the tiny library in which we waited and then tried to get this thing going. There weren't enough hand-outs, which is ok, we'll get more next time, and I once again thanked God that Phyllis was with me, and is a pastor because they talk ALOT and know alot of funny jokes and stories, and she is (was) an alcoholic. PHEW....she got going, and there was no end in sight. There were young faces, beautiful faces, old faces, toothless faces, all different, yet all the same, stuck in life and in things they just couldn't get out of. By the end all I could think was I have to pee or my eyeballs will turn yellow, and I'm no different than these ladies except for one thing-what they need to do to keep straight I never really doubted or stopped in my own life. Is it good, is it bad...I never crossed the line from civilized society to what it won't tolerate. But I told them, alot of people on the outside are more in prison than they because they don't know it. Fear, hatred, prejudice, greed, duplicity...but when you're in orange, there's nowhere to hide. Thank God.


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