Here we are, on the journey through Lent to Easter. The weather is slowly giving us signs that change is occurring. Flower bulbs are penetrating the cold frozen ground, buds are sprouting on the trees, and pussy willows are in bloom. People are longing for spring, and craving to find revitalization in a season of freshness and renewal and some find it in the resurrection of Christ.
However, where does revitalization lie for incarcerated men and women? What might they be longing for within the confines of walls and fences? Or, if they are set free, what nourishes their “spring” time? What do they hope for on the outside when they face loneliness and isolation with few to assist them with coping with the demands of a life ahead of being “free”?
This is our core question at Concilio. What contribution might we make to helping them find true freedom and belonging? How can we help them face their vulnerabilities and in this, find love and healing? Here is a story from one of our volunteers on the gifts received in the Kairos Marathon Circle, one of the Concilio ministries.
Whether one needs to heal from shame, loss, grief or any other type of suffering, it is only love that can begin the course of healing. In our groups, men experience all kinds of suffering. They suffer from the harm they have done to others, from being victims of violence themselves, and from the shame and disappointment, they feel for the actions and attitudes that have kept them stuck for so many years.
In our circle, we often say, “The group is here to love you until you are able to love yourself.” Inmates find it unfathomable that us volunteers, mostly strangers accept them unconditionally. Accepting love and loving others requires a tremendous amount of courage and trust. We remind them that no child is born a criminal. Criminality is a disregard for others and the rules of society that keep people physically and emotionally safe. Breaking those rules and being willing to hurt others in the process is only possible in an absence of love.
You can’t expect someone to speak another language who’s never been immersed in the language. Love too, is learned by experiencing it.
Written by a Kairos Marathon Volunteer
In December 2016, you received an update the situation at Concilio. There has been a steering committee working under the authority of the Concilio Board to explore and implement changes that are needed to continue. We have met 4 times since that visioning day in November 2016.