It was another graduation service (the second of the week for me...the first being a University Graduation) but on this occasion for a group of about 20 prisoners in one of the State's prisons.
This is run by Kairos Prison Ministry. An ecumenical endeavour to prisoners, a short course, and weekly contact with those in jails. (we are still having a debate about jail or gaol)
The guys who did the course spoke about "what they had learnt" and "how they had changed". In some senses fairly trite questions...and the guys recognise this...but they roll with it.
Some of my observations:
These dot points have grown too long... I hope you read them all
- We had a good conversation in the car on the way home about the way language is used. We had all noted that the, otherwise, very excellent speaker from the Dept. of Correctional Services used the lingo of her Department. These were "offenders", and we and they were told that Kairos was one step towards them getting back on the right track. This is the language of the Department, I guess, but fairly heavy handed
- My first impression....and this is not the first time I have been in a gaol... as I looked at the security is that: if this is 'medium and low security' then what is high security? It all looked awful to me
- I was struck by the male membership of the Kairos team and supporters. This is not something that you always experience in the life of the church. It is good to see that good men think this is valuable ministry
- My friend, Rob, had lured me by the assurance that the guys who would speak would be a profound experience
- It was indeed,. Groups spoke...and then there was Open Mic ( as a person who does funerals I think this is a big mistake.) But today.......the groups Matthew, Mark, Luke and John....I wonder where those name came from.... and then (sometimes with a little reluctance) from individuals came very interesting reflections
- Most spoke about Forgiveness. The guys spoke about three things: How they needed to seek forgiveness. Well yes!
- how they needed to forgive...well that's a bit more challenging and complex...they are not only Offenders but are also Victims....some of them were able to even articulate that their families of origin didn't really support and/or love them. This is bitter stuff. But they needed to forgive... the failures of those who should have done better
- They spoke mainly about the need to forgive themselves .....pretty deep stuff for guys who we may so often think of as hopeless!
- Finally, and this is not everything I thought, an APY guy played guitar and about the Cross. he sang (I am told) in the Pitjantjara language (Were I a producer I would be signing him up today!!)
- I found myself pained, as one who has artistic proclivities, what do you do if you are denied the outlet of your life. If there is no gyuitar in your room. If you cannot pen the poem that is in your heart (my particular issue)
- I am thankful to shake the hands of those guys...who had to return to lockup
These dot points have grown too long... I hope you read them