30 April 2009

About those worms...

It has been too long. The last time I wrote, we were still early in Lent. Lent came and went, and so did Easter. We're headed into the fourth week of Easter and I'm still trying to come up for air.

Worms. I did mention worms.

They were the inspiration for my part of the homily on Easter Sunday. It poured rain on Easter. When I picked up my keys and headed for the chapel, I found the walkways covered with worms. Hundreds of them. Like I've never seen before.

I heard John the Baptist roaring in my head, "Who told you to flee the wrath to come??"

In the winter, the walkways can get icy and it's easy to slip. Worms are more treacherous.

What I said about the worms was this: Looking at them, I knew that the worms natural place was under the grass, in the ground. Yet the ground was so soaked with water that they were escaping their natural habitat and headed for what looked like certain death: cement and puddles. Isn't that just like baptism? We leave a safe place--or at least what we've known as a comfort zone--and launch ourselves into the waters of baptism, certainly a death that we have yet to understand.

Somehow, we survive.

(And I'll resist quoting that infamous line, "I am a worm and not a man!")

It is spring. The swallows are back building nests all over the facility. There are often bird fights involving the swallows, blackbirds, crows, and seagulls, with the robins distracted with the worms.

More of the guys are on the track in the morning. We can see them through the chapel windows when we gather for Sunday services. Sunshine draws most of us out for doses of Vitamin D. The baseball injuries are showing up in the infirmary: black eyes where the softball hit, twisted ankles. People are in a better mood for the most part, even if April is notoriously fickle and will never let the sun shine more than two days in a row.

The garden is huge this year, doubled since last fall. The beets and potatoes went in this week. The produce from the garden has gone to four food banks and a senior center in past years, a way of giving back to the community. That will happen again this year, but in addition, the new plots will grow vegetables that can be incorporated into the prison diet. Let's hear it for more fresh veggies!

I'm sure there are worms out there. I'm just sure.

02 April 2009

It's spring! April Fool!

That was the greeting all day long yesterday. April 1st and it was snowing. Cold and snowing. The white stuff covered the garden that is begging to be planted. It covered the yard where the phones stood silent. It covered the jackets pulled up over the heads of offenders trudging toward lunch. It didn't stick to the sidewalks. Small miracle.

It was all gone by three in the afternoon.

A friend from one of the county jails called to tell me, "A friend of ours is coming back to you." When he told me the name, I wailed, "Again? What happened?" John laughed. "You know what he said? 'This time I didn't do it.'

When I saw our mutual friend, he told me, "I really didn't do it. I mean, I did smoke some weed, but I swear I didn't know the car was stolen."