I’ve only told a couple very close friends about Vince’s new address. One, my neighbor Sarah, slipped this poem by John O’Donohue under my door, with a note apologizing if it was too sappy.
For a Prisoner
Caged in a cold, functional cell,
Far from the comfort of home
With none of your own things,
In a place that is gray and grim,
Where sounds are seldom gentle,
Amidst the shuffle of dumbed feet,
The crossword of lost voices,
The one constant note
Is the dead, trap-shut sound
Of unrelenting doors that
Make walls absolute.
Though you have lost the outside world,
May your discover the untold journey
That await you in the inner world.
May you come to recognize
That though your body is imprisoned,
No one can imprison your mind.
May all the time you have on your hands
Bring you into new friendship with your mind
So that you learn to understand and integrate
The darkness that brought you here.
Within this limited space,
May you learn to harness
The stretch of time.
May your compassion awaken.
May you learn to recover the self
You were before you lost your way
And draw from its depths
Some balm to heal your wounds.
Behind the harsh rhythms of prison life,
May you find a friend you can talk to
And nurture the natural kindness
To become more free in your heart
And lighten the outer constraints.
May your eyes look up and find
The bright line of an inner horizon
That will ground and encourage you
For that distant day when your new feet
Will step out onto the pastures of freedom.
Too sappy? If she had given it to me the day before I might have thought so. My mood is fluctuating day by day. But today I cried as I read it. Not even so much because it’s a beautifully and realistically written, but because someone actually cared enough about prisoners to write it.
But if you Google “Prayer for a prisoner” you’ll find a lot of hits, mostly from Catholic organizations. I make a mental note to check that out some day. Even though I’m not a believer, I find it really touching and comforting.