The following was a letter I sent to my former pastor on the outside with the hope of getting it published in the local church newsletter. I had been very active in that church, having served on several committees as well as Session, the governing body prior to my imploding and coming here to the State imposed time out. While some might think I was continuing to put on my happy face for outsiders, at this point I was truly starting to feel the joy and peace Paul talked about and live that existence even inside corrections.
12/09 HOLIDAY GREETINGS FROM VAN
As we approach the joyous celebration of our Savior’s birth I wanted to send my greetings to all at the First Presbyterian Church of Ontario Center. It has been another year of highs and lows, joys and sorrows, struggles and transforming relationships for our family and me, as it may well have been for all reading this. (Feel free to drop me a note about yours!)
I cannot escape the lasting thought this year of the strength and faithfulness of our Lord and how he expresses it daily in so many ways. Though behind the fence, I can still take in his earthly majesty as displayed in nature all around this campus I am lucky enough to be able to walk. I also feel it in every letter, visit, prayer, package or call and am so very enriched because of it all. As my daughter “Little Wanderer” says in her blogs she is able to do, I too have learned not just to mouth how precious each moment is, but to live it and absorb it just as she reports she is able to do. Oh sure, I still glance ahead 23 months to my hopeful release, but knowing more fully my values and priorities. I try even in here to seize each minute and do something positive, something good or helpful, to do the “next right thing” as Pastor Cheryl counseled me so long ago. It has taken me a good deal of time and misfortune to fully absorb and implement, especially after being denied parole and work release in a short period of time, but the rewards are endless and worth it. Believe me, it sure proves a challenge in this, as my daughter has aptly dubbed it, my Jumanji World. I may get down, think this zaniness will never end as I am surrounded by bizarre people and events, often comical, sometimes scary, but I know I must keep playing this “game” to make it out and back to whatever normal will prove to be when I get there. Maybe the same is true for many of you in your own life. May you recognize as I have the one holding the controls, using Proverbs 3: 5-6 daily just for that.
Several months ago I was blessed with a single room, which really makes life here easier in many ways. Fortunately too, I have gained the respect of civilians, CO’s and other inmates because of my work in Transitional Services, the Mentally Challenged Unit, and leading the Full Gospel Chapter. All in all, I have it as good as one can in such a place. I make every effort to keep busy, and rue the weekends and days off, though I have projects for those times as well. Talk about abundance!
I can assure you, your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated and returned daily. I sincerely hope you all may enjoy the spirit of this season and allow it to continue throughout the New Year. I pray peace for you all and the world.
Your brother in Christ,