Tuesday, January 09, 2007

In a Hole...with hope

I am still processing what happened Sunday night. The local chaplain for the Santa Barbara County Jail invited me to participate in a Sunday evening service for inmates and take a tour of the facility. Dan is a tall, retired SB fireman and committed Christian. He told me not to worry about remembering the layout, but grab impressions. The first impression: bleak. Jammed spaces with too many bunk-beds and men lounging about, playing cards, trying to sleep, using the facilities. The second impression was of a skin canvas of tatoos. Everyone with their shirts off (because it was hot and fettid inside) seemed to have tatoos on arms, shoulders, backs, chests, and necks. The third impression was hospitality: "Hey, Chaplain Dan, how's it going?" "Will you be back sometime so we can talk." When we were in less secure areas, inmates extended their hands to greet me after shaking Dan's. They were genuinely glad to see Dan (and by osmosis me).
When it came time for the service, it was little more than a sing-along to a boom-box with a printed lyric's sheet and then an inductive Bible study on II Kings. The guys lapped it up. They were so eager and hungry for some hope, some good news, some positive and loving attention, it totally energized me after a long day of church. Dan told me that he heads back on Mondays and responds to requests for visits and spends almost all day going from one inmate to another. Talk about a hole with hope!


At 10:27 PM , Anonymous Anna S said...

Thats amazing. I love that print. It fits so well.

At 10:28 PM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Thanks Anna

At 4:38 PM , Anonymous Burr said...

when i lived in north carolina i used to help lead a weekly prison bible study.

an interesting thing with some of the guys who came into grace from behind bars: they were afraid to leave. not because they were institutionalized... but some were afraid afraid of who they were on the outside, and that they (oddly) might not have the same support system that they had on the inside.

ps: i saw on your profile you don't like country or polka. when natalie and i were in germany 3 years ago, we heard a polka band do a cover of "country roads." i guess you REALLY wouldn't have liked that.


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