Last night, we sat in circle inside Vermont’s women’s prison in the midst of a typically chaotic day. Women returning from work crew were exhausted, out of sorts, choosing showers and downtime and phone calls home as buffers. One woman wept in a corner of the resonant hall. Another was escorted by two Corrections Officers with a lost look on her face.
When time came for our evening group from the general population, it was unclear just who would show up or what explanations we would receive for absences. After all, the group is not mandated. Women come because they choose to. They come to explore their feelings; to untangle the choices that brought them to jail in the first or third place; to seek support for shaky new shoots of resolve they tentatively plant in the safety of our carefully-held circle of deep listeners and wise women.
And last night, they came, new participants in tow, to remember a strong woman in their lives, a woman whose influence grows in them with the opportunity to recall and reflect on values that may have gotten trampled or dissolved through short-sighted decisions with unintended long-term consequences. JL’s story is one such. The featured image is her symbolic representation of what her grandmother has meant to her in her life: Continue reading