We Will Not Be In Jail, We Will All Be Free…

by Kenny on June 27, 2014

The last day of our visit to the state prisons in Oregon was fantastic.  It was on a Saturday morning and we had been sitting and dialoguing with 20 inmates and volunteers.  These small group meetings were for those men who were enrolled in the Restorative Justice Program.  It was now time for us to gather together and have a large meeting for the inmates who were in the regular population.   This evening was our final chance to share our message of “changing your focus changes your life.”

In attendance were 75 men, volunteers, Pilar (my wife) and myself.    It was just starting to rain outside and while we were waiting for the men to come and take their seats, I had a moment to stop and contemplate what I was going to say.

Then it hit me. For the next two hours, we will not be in jail, we will all be free.

Why would I make such a statement? As a former prisoner, I remember the most precious moments would be when I got a visit from someone on the outside. Their words and their presence would, if only for a few hours, set me free of the misery that awaited me back in my cell.

This is why Pilar and I go to jail. We go not to convert, fix or repair broken souls. No, we know that each person is a human and flawed. In jail or out, each individual still has his or her thoughts to deal with on a daily basis. While incarcerated, it is the best chance to gain inspirational and motivational knowledge. Their is plenty of time to study and gain wisdom.

It can be digested deeply, and there is a possibility a prisoner will experience an internal shift.

We have learned over the years (and from my own prison experience) that sowing seeds is the first step.  The watering, weeding, pruning and growth happens once we leave the jail. This is where a mysterious process happens. We plant seeds and then growth happens.

This is what I tell all prison workers who visit men and women. Go in, be sincere and let that sincerity be seen. Just seeing genuine love is more that enough for most of the incarcerated. Seeing that love and then contemplating and meditating on it can bring about enormous change. It is this introduction of love from people who are neither family nor friends, that ultimately causes a prisoner to pause and do some soul searching.

Over the years, it is increasingly clear that the experience I had in jail is a common one among all inmates.  Lack of attention and real sincere love is the norm for the majority of the incarcerated.   It was this lack of love that had shaped them, we were doing all we could to break down the walls with love and joy.   Walls that try to keep hatred in and love out,

But on this day, we saw all the faces and walls fall down in submission to the love that was prevalent in the room.   Collectively, the inmates, volunteers and guards were all smiles.

Yes, for one day and for a few hours, love of freedom visited the Oregon state prison system. That freedom is still there resting in each man’s heart. Waiting for the right time to bud, bloom and produce fruit.

May this fruit feed many others
With this I take my leave…

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