Tag: prayer

Christmas in prison – a time for reflection

The holidays can be some of the toughest time for prison inmates and their families and loved ones. An inmate can feel incredibly alone and sad being in prison during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and New Years. It’s a time we associate with family and the reality of being locked up can hit hard. It’s a time when mothers and fathers cry for their sons and daughters, and wives and husbands yearn for the touch of their mate.
As a former inmate, I can tell you there were bright spots to the holidays. For one, the inmates tend to have an attitude of “we are in this together” and while I was incarcerated, it was typical to plan a party where we would pool all our stashes from commissary and make the best spread we could. Sure, it could be a little random – raman noodles, peanut butter and tuna fish, for example. But we did share, and have some fun together for a couple hours at least. And, even our holiday meals were a bit above average. A little more served, maybe even something special on the plate. Hey, better than usual at least!
And, here is another thought that offers a new perspective for many of us who are dealing with incarceration during the holidays. Today I got my newsletter from the Human Kindness Foundation. For a little back history, Bo and Sita Lazoff started the Human Kindness Foundation many years ago, as an outreach to inmates. Bo wrote a book named “We’re all doing time” that is really well known amongst inmates and is a great book for anyone. I highly recommend it for those who are religious or not, it offers a lot of wisdom and comfort. I found it VERY helpful during my incarceration.
Anyway, Bo Lazoff passed away 2 years ago, a great man lost too young, but his writings and lessons live on. For this quarter’s newsletter, The Human Kindness Foundation reprinted some of Bo’s articles and letters from 1998. He made a really great point about being incarcerated during the holidays. To paraphrase Bo’s thoughts about this, think about Jesus, and the way he lived. Where do you think you would have found him on Christmas? In someone’s cheerful living room tearing gift wrap off of presents? Or would he be at the side of those with struggles, those that are a bit lost or afraid and needing to find their belief in themselves, and their ability to love their fellow man? I think it’s easy to imagine that the place Jesus would very likely to be found was in a prison.
Maybe you can find some comfort in the thought that our incarcerated loved ones are perhaps in a position to not be “Merry”, or “Happy” but perhaps thoughtful and reflective, and therefore much closer to the true spirit of Jesus’ love than many of us out in the world. And if you or your loved ones are not particularly religious or Christian, that is OK. Let’s hope that our incarcerated loved ones find some peace and comfort during this Christmas, regardless of their beliefs.
Merry Christmas everyone, and peace to y’all. ~ Magnum

Light up the darkness

Arriving here to TDCJ was as I expected. It involved a lot of nudity and yelling, being told where to stand, where to look, go, speak, dress… but overall I could think of a lot worse. My first week was spent in the “Chicken Coops” which resemble something out of the movie Silent Hill. Rusted metal, and dirty everything, complete with rats climbing on the rafters above.

While in the intake process, you to go to sociology and medical examinations, and orientation, as well as an IQ test. Once you are finished with those, you are moved to be housed in General Population. By that time, you don’t care what or who awaits you in General Population, just as long as you’re out of the Chicken Coops.

Once housed in GP, it was relieving to find that it’s pretty much like a much bigger county jail as far as the atmosphere. Observing, you can see the cliques of guys and who runs with who. Nobody disturbs you though. Over all, I am glad I have finally arrived and that I can now get started on finishing my time.

Christmas and New Years were both alright. We made a spread out of all of our food, and we said a prayer and then gave peace to the man beside you. It brought me joy to see all the men, although lost, still find their way to a merry Christmas, along with myself.

Overall, I feel I have arrived into the belly of the beast. Now it’s up to me to spread the good news that the darkness in our lives can be lit from within. Maybe it will be done in the smallest of ways, by making one of my brothers smile or giving him something to laugh about that day, maybe my words and actions can even cause him to think about his life and reflect on things. Justice, truth and peace are in my hands to share, and now is my chance to stand and act in what I believe in – to light up the darkness.

Letting go

I’m mad. I’m anxious. I’m just all around worried. I sit here and sit here and sit here. And I go over and over how I could have lived my life different. I know I could have done better. I am scared for my future.

All these thoughts bring nothing but negative emotions and urges. I feel like starting a fight with anyone who crosses me, I have the urge to use drugs, drink, shoot up. And I find myself judging others, in an attempt to defend my actions and outbursts and bad attitude.

I know at moments like this, I am my own worse enemy. I am letting my old ways and my old thinking get the best of me.

When this happens I remember a saying from A.A.-  “Let go, and let god.” I remind myself of this with a serenity prayer, and I try to reassure myself by letting my higher power know that I acknowledge that he’s the one who is in control, and I’m just gonna let him handle the things in front of me that seem impossible. Meanwhile, I will try my best to do the next right thing.