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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience Court Statements From the Muscogee County Jail
From the Muscogee County Jail PDF Print E-mail
From the Muscogee County Jail:
(Some of my thoughts have been posted at www.crln.org)

Every day is a gift. Every day presents opportunities to practice the way of the nonviolent Jesus. Every day gives us the choice to forgive and ask forgiveness, to live our beliefs, to honor every being as a creation of our God of love.

How I am here feels natural. And I like to think that it's a truer reflection of who I am rather than who I am in my "real" world. Here I am pared down, simplified by my surroundings - yet I thrive.

Here we joke about what we don't have - our common reality. The incessant TV and ads infer the stuff we need to be whole persons: it's no wonder that women feel inadequate, or look to illegal means to live the dream How can society advertise a dream that benefits all of us, that doesn't waste resources, that uplifts instead of drags down.

Here I notice the connections between injustices much more than in my "real" world. Many charges are related to money; and how hard must it e to return to the community with no resources and with a criminal record. The few jobs that are available are reduced to fewer, lower paying, no benefits for women who often head families alone.

Why would people the world over want to live in a community where opportunities are more equal, children have access to good education, families have access to good health care, people aren't discriminated against? These are the dreams of the people of Latin America as well, those who have the [ ] to cry for justice.

Tonight as I was writing one of the women asked me what I was doing, then asked if I would include her story. She wanted me to say that she has a new baby, a toddler, and a five year old child she will not be able to see for six more months. This is justice?

Revelation: if I don't slow down, savor life, further reduce my carbon footprint, increase my prayer life, live more simply, and do some kind of jail advocacy. When I get back home, I will have wasted what I learned and experienced while in jail.

Ash Wednesday - an opportunity to fast and be humbled in this place. Last night I heard a story of a life, reminding me that I can't know the answers if I haven't lived the questions; but as a living witness I can offer hope.

Today's new testament, Mark 9:20-25, reading sparks this thought: when we follow Christ with our own cross, we have replied to his invitation to share not only resurrection, but also reparation for the sin of the world.

Since there is no opportunity to attend mass or receive communion, I have written out the mass and all of the common prayers, and "celebrate" how I can each Sunday. I even write my own "homily," dressed in my blanket, covered from head to toe because it's so cold in here; feeling like someone from 60 AD.

In my best moments, I listen to the stories of these women of sorrow and hope. In my sleep-deprived moments, I seethe. How dare some folks keep the TV on so late, knowing we have to get up at 4 am to clean the dorm.

Temptations to be bitter, to close up into myself ... then I think of Dorothy Kazel, whose picture stands among the cards I've received, and the other women martyrs, and what they gave up to do God's work on Earth. So little is asked of me. My 45 day sentence is probably not enough for me to learn what I need to learn in this holy place - but I feel I'm learning humility, gratefulness, and love for the other, and I hope that I can be an authentic voice for peace and justice in this small community of women, and in my own community at home. It is vital that I try. And with God's grace, I can.

I am adapting pretty well, and even had a thought yesterday that I could function as a prisoner for an extended time. Of course I would miss all that I know lies outside the walls and razor wire, but I've established a routine of sorts. Where are the self made [ ] in my own life to which I have easily adapted? With this experience, and the love of community, I hope to break out of those, with the freedom of Spirit that comes with the escape.

Just when I was falling down, I received an inspiring letter from Father Roy - I love how hope always comes in the darkest hours. He said that efforts are being made with the Ecuadorian and Nicaraguan governments to stop sending soldiers to the SOA/WHINSEC. I had thought the other day about writing to the newly - elected President of Guatemala. One never knows what will be the catalyst - or one of many - that ignites conversion. New seems a good time to pursue this possibility, what we are called to seek.

A busy and blessed day - beginning with "Happy Valentine's Day, ya'll,"visits from Berrian Zettler, call to Patrick [my husband], 'church' with Catholic Ministers, and the promise of a New American Bible and inspiration more nourishing to me than previous 'church' visits. We even sang, with keyboard accompaniment!

Every leaders should spend at least a week in jail. This needs to be a prerequisite for running for office, leading a business or other organization, or heading a flock of any kind. We can't expect to really grasp the hopes and dreams of the injustices to the poor, and complexities of poverty without having this indirect experience ourselves, and some opportunity to be in this space and hear their stories. Any knowledge derived from such an experience - but hopefully sympathy and solidarity as well - would contribute to the formation of beloved community.

Moving along with the thought of how relatively easily I adapted to jail, with really only one meltdown - at first I thought what an accomplishment that was. But taking it a few steps further, an ability to easily adapt can bring us to complacency, allow us to quickly accept majority opinion, justify for the greater good without raising natural questions about the consequences of premature agreement, majority opinion: "soldiers who adapt to basic training and peer pressure in country; the disenfranchised who settle for unjust conditions, a populous accepting a broken health care system. I hadn't considered adaptation a malady. And as with any malady, we are responsible to find the cure.

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