1988 May 17 – Trinity Sun (Prison Writings)
Mt 28, 16 – 20
“GO THEREFORE AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS”: MATTHEW 28
This weeks Gospel from Matthew is the last verse of his book. Jesus is commissioning his disciples to take his message and make disciples of all nations, of all peoples. I’m reading the book, “Mystic of Liberation: A Portrait of Bishop Pedro CasaIdaliga of Brazil.” Bishop Pedro’s diocese is in the Amazon River region, an area targeted by large multinational corporations to be made into a massive plantation for export goods. He is witnessing the systematic destruction of the Indian way of life in his diocese and the brutal liquidation of the small family farmer and homesteader. His criticism of capitalism is harsh. His love for his people who are suffering such is true. Bishop Pedro has been branded a communist, has been threatened with death many times and has come close to being killed. People who work for him have been tortured and killed by the big landowners. It has been difficult reading this book. It makes me angry at the blind greed that often rules the lives of so many people, especially the poor and defenseless. It also makes me hopeful for the church when a Bishop is so intimately involved with the struggle of his people at great personal risk. It is a sign of the Church’s evangelical vitality to continue the mandate that Jesus gave in today’s gospel, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”
88 05 17
SETTLED IN: A way of living is taking form here at Marion Prison Camp. I have completed my second week as a dishwasher in the camp kitchen. The work is hard at two-hour spurts three times a day. When I hit the sack I’m tired and sleep well. I ‘m moving up in the ranks (or I should say down), from a top bunk to a bottom bunk in the same dormitory. The next advancement will be to preferred housing in the west wing or out to one of the trailers. In preferred hous1ng you have a cub to yourself with a single bed. It usually takes two to three months to get into preferred housing. It’s something to look forward to. In the rhythm of such places one day blends into the next, each one much like the last. It is by design. The idea is to lose track of time. You are aware of what is happening in the present but lose sight of what has passed with little concern for what will be. The past and future are a mix of the same with only the present to occupy your mind, a physic numbing of sorts, a mindset much more ingrained the longer the time to be served. A six-month sentence is hardly worth mentioning around here. I keep telling the guys I’m just passing through. Ninety percent of the men here would gladly trade sentences with me.
As I get to know Larry Morlan more and more I am aware of this profound difference, Larry has served close to two years now. He got a six-year sentence. He is not seeking parole, which means he will max out his sentence. He has over two years left to do. Though we are much alike in our beliefs, our faith and our worldviews and though we are occupying the same space, we are doing very different time. If I was going to be doing several years of jail time I would need an entirely different frame of mind, a different understanding of myself and my connection with the outside.
With only six months to serve, a good part of me is still very much on the outside; concerned with the everyday experiences of the people I serve. Last week I called Marvin and Dolores Klein. Marvin said they are almost done planting the corn and were about to start on the beans. It reminded me that I will miss a whole planting season. By the time, I hit the streets the corn and beans you have planted will be ready for harvest. Last week I also received photos from Mary Lynn Espenmiller and Carla Jones of the Confirmation and First Communion celebrations at St. Anne’s. They brought pangs of homesickness to my heart. The kids looked so good in their Sunday best, I’m sure they were on their best behavior too. I’m also sure Fr. Jim and Bishop Bullock did an excellent job. I just wish I would have been there. The photos are hang1ng on the Inside of my locker door, thanks Mary Lynn and Carla.
My phone call to the Kleins and the photos from home helped to break the psychic numbing that goes on in this place. They reminded of the passage of time. It’s painful to know I’m missing important events in the life of the parishes, yet the pain keeps me In touch with you. It is this suffering I pray will bear good fruit in time, a small down payment on the price that must be paid for a nuclear free future.
All I’m really trying to say is that I love you all and miss you. I’m doing well. And despite or because of these pains of separation may God’s blessings be upon us all.