Being Human

Doors. New Bedford Quaker Meeting, New Bedford, MA

Sunday morning found me, earrings and bracelets and watch-free, being escorted through the long and eerily empty corridors of the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center. Loathe to say anything that could in any way negatively impact the inmate I was about to visit, I chose to remain silent with my prison-guard escort.* And, too, because I recognized that although I can usually find something to talk about with just about anyone, I had no clue how to engage in a real conversation with someone who worked in a supermax. “So don’t even try,” I coached myself as we waited for another massive, electronically-controlled door to slowly slide open.

The actual visit? Wonderful. Rich. Moving. We told stories. We laughed. We got sad. We talked about our families. We explored why he’d ended up where he was. He described the dimensions and the fixtures of his segregation cell. At some point, as he was animatedly explaining something, his arms waving in the air, his eyes lit up, I was gifted with something one of the Sharing Circle had said last week: “This circle lets me be human.” ( I can’t write about this without welling up.)

“That’s what is happening here,” I realized. He’s remembering how to be human as he sits in this cinderblock cubicle shouting his words to me through a metal grill in a plexiglass window. Every second, here, is precious. (Duh!)

Finally, our time was up, signaled when my new escort unlocked the door to my side of that cubicle.

“I’d been locked in?” I sputtered indignantly.

“Sometimes inmates work as janitors on this floor,” the guard explained wearily. You-were-locked-in-for-your-own-safety, he shrugged as we began our trek back. Along the way we passed another guard. “Howya doing?” he asked my guy.

“Not good,” MG responded through clenched teeth. “But I know how to fix that.” (Or words to that extent.)

“I can use this silence to pray for him,” I decided. I can hold him—and whatever is plaguing him—in the Light. can be human in this self-imposed silence. I can pray. I can put my earrings and my bracelets and my watch back on as if performing a ceremony to commemorate my return to Normal.

And here I am.


*The young man I was on my way to see is in “seg,” i.e. segregation, i.e. solitary confinement. Seg visits happen in a different section of the prison from its visitors’ room. That’s why I required an escort.



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1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Well, hello, there, Patricia, and greetings and salutations to you and to you AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, my awesomely precious and dearly special soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker woman FOR ALWAYS who you’re FOR ALWAYS so, so very much!!!!! I pray, wish, and hope for you and yours A VERY, VERY NICE, SPECIAL, BLESSED, BOUNTIFUL, and A VERY, VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and to you and FOR YOU AND YOURS, sistah, for your dearest and darling husband, for your beloved children, for your precious grandchildren, for your dearest siblings, for you Loved One in the long term care facility, for all of the rest of your wonderful family, for your blessedly holy and pure in heart friendsfamily at your Friends Meeting at Cambridge, for all of your so, so very cool in spirit and Spirit yoga friends, and, in fact, for all of your awesome friends!!!!! 🙂 <3 I pray for daily and very frequently FOR YOU, sistah and friend of mine, Patricia, and for each and every one of you keeping you all covered in praying without ceasing sending to each of you such greatly strong positive energy!!!!!! 🙂 <3 It is my very joy, honor, blessing, and pleasure to pray without ceasing for all of you and for others, too, and it is such great fun for me as well!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sister, what a very encouraging blog post article this is by absolutely FANTASTIC YOU, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!! I absolutely LOVE this!!!!!! Sistah, as you visited your prisoner friend in the segregated unit you were very graciously and generously doing as it is written in the Gospels when our Sweet Jesus urged and instructed in the New Testament that we visit those who are in prison. WOW, Patricia, WOW!!!! What great joy and blessing you both gave to one another with such an overflowing spirit and Spirit bearing witness to each other of Spirit and of love and the good, Patricia, with all that God gives to each and every one of us with God's love and with the love we have for each other in our very humanness as you gave him the love of God in your heart and spirit and as he very much loves and appreciates you in the spirit and Spirit. What a richly joyous blessing it was for you both with this blessed visit even with the uncomfortable arrangement of being escorted through this maze of a prison with all of the steep security and with being locked in here and there and going through as well very scary and dangerous areas, sistahfriend! Sisterfriend, your human connection to this awesome prisoner gave witness to both of your spiritual hearts to hearts and spirits to spirits from deep within both of your very souls and beings. My dear, dearest, precious Patricia, what sweetly healing words which act as such a healing balm when one of the amazing men at the Sharing Circle exclaimed, "This circle lets me be human." Sistah, I, too, am welling up from his very heartfelt, so very moving and touching words from his very dear and precious heart!!!!!! 🙂 <3 It IS what was happening there when you were visiting with your prisoner friend as he found a way to connect, to find a way that would let him be human!!!! What wisdom you have here, Patricia!!!!! Every second is in fact very much indeed precious as you say with such spiritual attunement and discernment, Patricia!!!!! My so, so very dearest and darling friend, Patricia, I so, so very much love, enjoy, like, and appreciate when you share about the very blessedly healing Sharing Circle. At this holy Sharing Circle you all break bread together in inclusive community welcoming and accepting the newly freed prisoners with all of your empowering with all of you both free and newly freed in mutual learning, healing, and growing reciprocity with the emboldening unity of the spirit. WOW, I love how you were and continue to silently pray for him with strong stirrings in your spirit from the Great Holy Spirit Dove holding him in the Light. WOW, I just so LOVE this Quakerese saying, "Holding in the Light." WOW!!!!! And YOU are here and YOU were there and even now continuing on in very delightfully saying to yourself, to God as a Verb, "And here I am," as you pray very earnestly and strenuously for your prisoner friend!!!!!!

    Sistah, what a perfect title to this very uplifting blog post article which is perfectly fitting and applicable to the great themes and topics of this very endearing and engaging writing here, Patricia!!!! The picture which you have once again as usual as always very graciously and generously featured and included with this very empowering blog post article is just perfect here, picture perfect. If I'm remembering correctly this picture shows the location of the Sharing Circle, Patricia, but I may be misremembering, sistah. I so LOVE the links which you've once again as usual as always very graciously and generously featured and included with your very powerful article here. WOW!!!!! This blog post article is just absolutely encouraging and very inspirational here, Patricia!!!!! I LOVE this!!!!! It just does my very, very heart, and my very, very heart and spirit such blessedly immense good to bear witness to the abiding love and concern you and your prisoner friend share in spirit and with Spirit and the so abundant love you all share in unison at the Sharing Circle both the free and the newly freed prisoners all together in community helping one another, witnessing to each other. WOW!!!!! This is just wonderful here, Patricia!!!!!

    Patricia, I'm anyway For Always feel just so, so very grateful in counting all of my overflowing blessings any time of the year and with Thanksgiving being nearly upon us all I just so LOVE this beautiful holiday of such appreciation and expression of gratitude for all of my bountiful blessings!!!!! 🙂 <3 I just so, so very much love and cherish our So, So Very Beautiful, Loving, Sweet Spirit and am in my life and eternally just so, so very grateful for God for being God and for being Caring, Our Very Hope and Strength, FOR BEING AN FOR ALWAYS THERE FOR US GOD!!!!! Such a SO, SO VERY SWEET, KIND GOD!!!!! I know with all that I have with all of my very being that Spirit so, so very much loves and cherishes me and each and every one of us, too!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sistahfriend, I'm just so, so very grateful for YOU, my dear, dearest, precious sister and friend, Patricia!!!!! In the nearly four years since I've been writing to YOU, my friend, and your very empowering and encouraging blog and in emailing YOU and corresponding through the snail mail I've had such sheer joyous pleasure and such blessings from YOU, dear, dearest Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I've seen myself learn, heal, and grow more in these nearly four years and I've become a better woman and a better Christian by your very all-encompassing witness, sister!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sisterfriend, you have just been so, so very utterly loving, kind, caring, and patient with all of my voluminous sharing over all of these nearly four years as I've found and continue to find and connect to my voice, Patricia!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW, I thank-YOU FOR ALWAYS, Patricia!!!!!! YOU are such a so, so very right on, wondrously wonderful soul sistahfriend white woman, Patricia, and sistah Christian, and such a steadfast and indomitable ally in all sorts of ways, too, my so, so very dear friend!!!!! 🙂 <3 I'm so, so very blessed by YOU, Patricia, and so, so very grateful for YOU, Patricia, and for my other absolutely AWESOME white sisterfriends because YOU, my friend and sister, and other so, so very right on, wondrously wonderful white women I so, so very much love and cherish with all of you being my very, very heart!!!! 🙂 <3 I think so, so very highly of YOU, my sistah, and of other awesome and precious white women and you all as white women are my by far very, very favorites among white people and also my by far very, very favorites among all people in general!!!!! 🙂 <3 I say all of this straight from my very, very heart from the very bottom of my very heart from the deepest depths of my very heart with all that I have with all of my very being because YOU, Patricia, and other darling white women are my very, very heart!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I'm just so, so very grateful and in my life and in my eternity for my wonderful and loyal, loving friendsfamily at my beloved church here where I live in my awesome Iowa City, Iowa called Faith United Church of Christ. I've been a rejoicing and proud member of this faithful church since the 1990s. I am an open, out, rejoicing, and proud Christian lesbian woman at this amazing church!!!!! It is an Open and Affirming Church with an outreach among its many other outreaches to the LGBTQQIAA folks!!!!!!! I'm so wondrously blessed by being clean and sober in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous since Sunday, August 5, 1990 being a rejoicing and proud member of these two 12-Step Programs and also of very, very many, multiple other 12-Step Programs. I'm just so, so very eternally grateful to all 12-Step Programs and for my remarkable friends in the meetings and in fact for every one in the meetings!!!!! I'm just filled over the brim with such gratitude for all of my wonderful blessings that I could just go on and on, Patricia!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW, I feel so, so very incredibly blessed, Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sister, I count YOU, Patricia, as my life and eternal blessings!!!!!!!! 🙂 <3

    Sistah, now I feel even better and bright from very joyfully reading this very uplifting blog post article and joyously responding with all of my very heartfelt, detailed, and thorough thoughts, ideas, and comments, Patricia!!!!!! Patricia, I thank-YOU and GOD continually FOR YOU and FOR YOUR VERY PRESENCE IN MY VERY LIFE!!!!!! 🙂 <3 YAY for YOU, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!! 🙂 <3 YAY for your very spirit and Spirit-filled blog post articles, other very energizing blog post articles, other writings and books, and with all you do so, so very well in such a fine and excellent fashion diligently and conscientiously doing your absolutely very best Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 3 WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sister, YOU are just the very greatest and the best and such the very, very epitome of such overall awesomeness!!!!! I, and we, just so, so very much love and cherish YOU, Patricia, just as I, and we, know that you so, so very much love and cherish us, too!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sistah, YOU are just so, so very well-loved and thought of and such a blessing for very, very many people!!!!! 🙂 <3 God so, so very much loves and cherishes YOU, Patricia A WHOLE LOT and so do I A WHOLE BUNCH, TOO!!!!! 🙂 < 3

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my so, so very For Always awesomely special and dearly precious soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you're For Always so, so very much, sister of mine, and with My and God's Very Peace and Love FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, friend of mine, and with Such Blessings and Such Very Even More Blessings FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, sisterfriend of mine, 🙂 <3

    Yours FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian black woman and FOR ALWAYS in the very great spirit of unity and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa 🙂 <3

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