This is something I wrote down after seeing a client in prison 2 weeks ago. It is more like a diary entry than anything but forms part of the recurring thread of grace and grappling with ‘religiousness’ so decided to post it now.
Today was the last time I would see Luke* as I finish work at the prison law firm this week. As a lifer who has been in prison for 13 years, he is understandably anxious about his upcoming parole. And this means that visits with him are often fraught with miscommunication and tension. To be honest, I was expecting today to be worse. I had to tell him I was leaving and that level of disruption was bound – I thought – to tip him over the edge.
We are told that all Creation is groaning. “Groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Creation cries out through its slow burning into fullness.
There are seasons when we feel that deep unease which lets us know that we too – we fearfully created beings – are a part of that groaning. I guess in the same way that (so I’ve heard) during childbirth contractions which speak acutely of what is to come ebb and flow, the awareness that we are part of the greater groaning of all Creation comes and goes in waves. Continue reading
I know his prisoner ID number by heart. The address of the prison, even the postcode. I know the sound of his voice when he calls. The guessing game – will it be a happy call, an anxious call, a disastrous call.
I met him in thick snow in Manchester, wore hiking boots with a suit and felt silly next to Fancy Lawyer in killer heels. I walked through the grounds which has seen one of the biggest prisoner uprisings in recent memory and was surprised to see primary-coloured flowers planted in neat rows beneath the barbed wire.
Then we were face to face. Him looking broody in the red bib and he shook my hand, not meeting my eyes. I had to ask him to stop shouting when he got angry. Ever since, he would always stop himself when he realised and laugh at himself. Continue reading