I’ve added a component to the weekly writing circle called “news to share.”
It’s an opportunity for the jailed women who come together from six distinct units to report in on latest happenings in their lives.
The first time I introduced this idea, I didn’t expect much response. Ten minutes later, we had learned about the recent death of a beloved grandfather, a daughter’s first steps, a son’s 16th birthday, a painful anniversary, and a visit from a far-away friend.
The theme of this week’s news “download” was upcoming court decisions that will affect several women’s lives in potentially dramatic ways.
One inmate awaits an Interstate Compact from a neighboring state that will allow her to be released to family instead of serving time at Chittenden Correctional Facility for lack of local housing.
Another plans to change her plea and is wracked with anxiety over the pros and cons of making such an adjustment. It’s nearly impossible to know how this move could affect the years she has left to serve.
The third goes to the court house on Wednesday and could be released from there to home confinement, or the decision could be “NO,” and she would be returned to the facility that afternoon, an agonizing prospect in anyone’s mind.
The thread of this week’s shared news – how our fates lie in the hands of others, and frequently with individuals who know us not. Sheer terror can result at the thought.
And as the days tick down to decision-time, how do we deal with this great unknown? How do we wrestle with the fear, navigate the what ifs, and deal with the vast expanse of darkness beyond the headlights of our lives?
We pause, we breathe, we share our worries with compassionate ears, we pray, and we write together. We put words and voice to the twisting anxieties, get them down on the page so they no longer own us, run us, keep us trapped on the never-ending gerbil-wheel of angst. It’s a well-worn path toward healing for me and for many of the imprisoned women writers.
* * *
Where am I going? Separated from everyone – everything since I’ve ever known or was accustomed to. I wonder where I am going?
Apprehension overwhelms me with fears insurmountable. My existence will be surrounded by authority figures from one end of the room to another. I stumble and shun before every one of them. I am faced with a journey I never wished to be on. One thought holds my future, my existence, every facet of my being in the hands of total strangers that will essentially rule my fate – for the coming years ahead. This is a gripping tale of unbelief and assumption.
My wish for this journey –
an end to living every day
with heartache and uneasiness –
and finally divorce! -AW
* * *
Caress your history – who else will? – line from Family Reunion by Jeredith Merrin
So many questions go through my mind… what was my grandmother’s childhood really like? If she could have chosen any path to take in her life- what would that have been? Did she have any regrets? Oh, and by the way, who is my biological father anyway?
These questions and so many more I will never get the answers to. Maybe I am the only person in my family that wants to have these answers. So many opportunities gone – missed because I was moving forward too quickly to take the time to look back.
Since being away – a new goal to add to what seems like a never-ending list – what does my grandfather wish to share with me? What is his life story? Because after all, his history is part of what has shaped mine.
Time is so valuable – more so than you realize when rushing through life – what can the true history of my family teach me? -SC
* * *
We go through life,
thinking that we have to caress our history
because nobody else will…
But is that true?
Is that a fact or an opinion?
I’m here to tell you that
Jesus is here for you.
That he cares even if nobody else does,
when you think you are by yourself
and nobody seems to care.
You are feeling that you don’t matter in life,
people in your past have told you that
you are worthless in life, and even ugly,
and they call you stupid,
and say you had too many kids
and their fathers are not there to
take care of them because you are ugly.
Remember that you are beautiful inside and out.
And Jesus will always make a way
for you and your family.
Just call out to Him for help.
He will be there to caress your history
when no one else will.
He is our Father, our provider
and He gives us strength to heal
and go on when people try
to tear us down with harsh words.
He will build us back up with love
and kind words like,
Love is Patient, Love is Kind.
And to love each other just as He loves us. –LC