How did this happen
That I’m here, feeling all spiritual, joyous
In the cafeteria of the main prison, inside Angola
Singing Christmas hymns, sharing prayer books
The bishop is here, about 140 inmates and 35 visitors from the outside.
We all go to church together here, The Church of the Transfiguration.
It so happened that I took confirmation classes here, as part of my commitment to this ministry, and my desire to learn more about this place, where men are put away for life, because of terrible acts done usually under the influence, robberies, murders, accomplices to murders, yes they are where they belong.. and then there are some of them, tender faces, sincere smiles, words reflecting years of study, showing that they have learned that the only hope they have is to learn, to be changed, to “walk with God”. Even for those, the eyes tell the tale, there is the shadow behind the smiling eyes. The past has not been forgotten, can’t be. Spending time with some of these men is to spend time with God, so near are they to Him.
Shared communion, drank from the same cup, spoke aloud the same words
Priests, guards, inmates, outmates, nice hats, sweaters, denim shirts with “New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary” proudly worn by graduates, work pants, dress shoes, sneakers, tattoos, scars, lipstick
Sharing gumbo, potato salad, cake, “can I get ya more?” talking, laughing, fellowship
Words come my way, “welcome to the family”, “congratulations”, “be careful on the drive home, I’ll be prayin for ya”
Alone on angola road now, smiling, crying, happy to have shared it, sad with the helplessness, hopelessness,
But they know there is God, the hope, the miracle, the grace, the love.