or maybe even sooner. Why is it I get good ideas once a season has already begun?
We make a big deal about being part of the Body of Christ here at the prison. Okay. Truth is I make a big deal about it. I can drive to several different prisons within an hour or three of my home. Not one of them has a sign telling you you're getting close to a prison until the turn down the actual road. Very strange. For my particular prison, there are three exits to the local town. You have to pass by all of them, and go past the airport, and then some, before you ever see a sign for the place where I work.
That's the physical distance between us and the town.
Then there's the distance that we are from regular life and family. Most of the men who come here came from some other county. Most of their phone calls are long distance. Some of them faced time in county jail that was accompanied by newspaper and TV stories determined to excavate the Grand Canyon between the offender and the victim.
For the offenders, there is a certain kind of impatience that is extended to family. "Don't they know I need to hear from them?" "What are they doing out there?"
Similar questions from family: I'm busy here! I'm trying to hold down two jobs, manage the kids, deal with people asking me questions, and I don't have the energy at the end of the day to write you a letter because I just hung up on three bill collectors.
There are some generous folks who pray specifically for the men in this prison. They stretch around the globe, but it's the parishioners in town who sometimes break our hearts. "They're praying for us?? I thought they'd just want us all to disappear."
There's a world map hanging on one wall in the chapel. It undergoes various transformations. One year, I put up Post-It notes and string to identify where disasters happened around the globe. Someone asked me, after six months, "Could you put some good news up there? This is getting depressing." He was right.
So here's my thought. I'm going to get a map of the world and cut up the countries. Then I'll glue one country (or region--China's awfully big, as are Canada, the US, and Russia, now that I think of it) on an index card. Every guy that comes in my office will get a card and an assignment to pray for the people in that place.
And I'll expand that: if you have a postcard of a place or people you love, send it to me. Put your prayer request on it, leave your street address off. We'll put your postcard in the prayer basket and someone particular will be praying for you.
I'm thinking it's a good project to begin on Easter Sunday. What better way to spread the Good News?
You can send cards to:
The Catholic Chaplain
PO Box 900
Shelton WA 98584
Thanks for remembering this wonderful portion of the Body of Christ.