On Saturday I went with my ministry to the prison to do a follow up on the Kairos weekend. I had to give a talk on God's Love. I was supposed to talk about someone who has been hard to love. I had it all figured out and then I was starting to talk and I heard my dad's voice telling me, "Gosh al-Friday, they can't relate to that! You are a suburban housewife! Tell them about ___ _______!" It was like he was standing right there next to me like it was normal for him to do that. Not being one to argue with ghosts and especially my dad's ghost, :) I told them about my dad's prize horse who everyone thought was mean (she came up here with a sick filly and she was MAD) but who he fought for and loved and who produced great babies who are now breed standards. They related to her former abuse, her anger, and fear and my father's love. I told them how my dad was being charged and how he dropped to his knees while he was charged by her and how she reared up on him, bit, kicked and snorted and took the whip and lunge lines out of his hands and stomped on them, all the while my dad not changing his voice or method. (I also got bit and kicked. She was not exclusive!) It was the perfect analogy of God's love for imperfect people! Several of the ladies asked how I came up with the idea of appealing to their inner 12 year olds. . . if a woman was never gaga over horses, she can still relate to the abused and beaten horse, the daughter of two of the greatest American Saddlebreads who ever lived and over-educated people telling my dad that she was untrainable and should be put down.
For several years I have been terrified of prison for no reason. It came to me in waking up in cold sweats, just scared. My husband said to not run from it and to start to pray about it, which I did. Training with Kairos initially helped alleviate the fear. Yesterday I listened to several ladies talk about marriages ending because of what has happened to the women, or continuing in spite of their situations. Last night I woke up Darrin and talked to him for a few minutes about not leaving me, and I barely remember it. Here was that dear man this morning telling me, "I think you need to write about how marriages last when people are behind bars. Don't run from this fear." We also lit a candle for several people I know who are married and behind bars. Why can't I get a fear about eating truffles in France? Or of drowning in olive oil in Greece? Can't I be called to something fun? Surely there is a fun gig in those things!
The offenders are wonderful. I go to these for them, but I really don't like the prison. My former lawyer told me that as much as I appreciate them as people to think of them out of prison and on various substances-- most weren't put there because they were upholding laws. I have a few religious people that I work with on the Kairos team who remind me why I avoided church when I was Protestant. When I found out that my grandmother had died, I was blue but still went and they were all like, "Smile!" They got ugly with me for saying that it was a bad time and to back off. My priest says that it's because of a writer in the 1960's-70's movement telling people that the fruit of the spirit is joy and Christians turned into Stepford people. He knew a guy who he was trying to get to go to seminary who went to check it out and he returned, spooked. "They are all smiling all the time!" He said it was eerie. One lady yesterday was obnoxious again when I was talking to someone and she giggled, "You are so serious!" Then said, "Just joking." She's 70 years old, the same one who decided to tickle me last weekend with the same comment that I was "so serious." How do I tell someone that age that they are making me hate going? I was serious to an appropriately serious situation and I was listening to someone's story in a flipping prison! I wanted to scream at her, "You are so f'ing spastic!"
I made Prosfora last night. That is Blessed Bread. One of the loaves turns into The Lamb, which is mixed with Communion Wine, the combination with which we make Communion. Lots of praying goes into it, and I use some Holy Water. While I made it I held the big ball in my hands and started pulling off pieces and saying the names of the women at the retreat, "Pilgrims" and my teammates; I wasn't making a conscious thought of it, just praying for them and that is what happened. The seal on the bread (I use a wooden seal with symbols on it) came out perfect when the loaves were through baking, but the loaves were a funny, oblong shape. My priest asked after this and I apologized and explained and he just laughed. I should have perhaps kneaded it more? He said no, they were as they were supposed to be.
EDITED: I wrote an email to one of the authors of a book I have read on prison ministries and asked him to please advise people involved in this to uplift one another instead of hen pecking. He liked this idea and says that he will indeed write a chapter on this!