Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas In Prison

My Christmas Gift
My husband, Patrick, has been in prison more than once for the “terrible” crime of having a bit of dope on him.  He spent too many years behind bars and has a phobia about the sounds, smells, and walls of a prison.
For Christmas, he asked me what I wanted.  I asked him to take me to the St Albans prison so that I could wish some prisoners a happy Xmas and take them some of what they need and are allowed.  This is the greatest Christmas gift from Patrick; for he is giving me his time and taking me to where he does not like to be.  I am very grateful to him for doing this.  Not only does he have to take me, but he has to take the wheelchair, oxygen cylinder, and facemasks and push me quite a distance to the visitor’s lounge.   The one hour visit we are allowed can sometimes take 5 hours with all the red tape and wait one has to do to see the prisoner.
I am going to see Heinrich van Rooyen and Luvuyo Lukas – two of many of my favourite prisoners in Medium B.  I am well acquainted now, after 2 years of visits, with 18 amazing lifers.  Their combined skills would shock you – our country needs to allow them out on parole when it is due because they have skills that we need as a country.  Some of them are even lawyers, accountants, and medical doctors.  Everyone makes mistakes – some of us are caught and pay the penalty.  How many of us have just been lucky and not caught?
In Matthew 25:36 it says: “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”   This is what Christmas really means – giving of yourself for in doing so, you give to yourself.  I am not doing this out of duty, but because I want to.  I always do what I want to do when I can. Chronic illness is not an excuse to having a life of doing what you want when you can.  I prayed to be well enough to go today and I have woken up well enough to go visit.  Thank you, God.
Most of society sees prisoners or ex-prisoners in a very negative light.  I want to somehow in the future, change that view to one of compassion for these people who are doing their time for their crime.  If God can forgive them, if they have done their punishment; then what right do we have to be judgemental?   I am not a fool and I do not think that all prisoners are wonderful, but most of them have accepted their punishment and are making good on the courses offered to help them to change and become better people.   Even when no courses are available at the prison, they find ways of becoming better people by running book clubs and teaching one another the life skills that others have not got.
The sick are visited, the naked are clothed, but how many of us visit the prisoners?  A negative attitude to all prisoners comes from a lack of knowledge, a lack of care and a total lack of compassion.  Please spare a prayer for the prisoners of our country this Christmas.  We need to be more forgiving and more compassionate. 
I wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas and may 2018 bring you everything you need, and a little more so you can give some away as well.

God bless and keep you safe and happy during the festive season. 
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