Last night I had a wonderful phone conversation with a Harvard student investigating service projects for herself and her classmates. Through another Kennedy School student, she’d heard about Friends Meeting at Cambridge’s Prison Fellowship Committee and our Wednesday night sharing circle —so arranged for our phone call to learn more.
Early on I’d warned her that I’d have lots to say. And I did. But, bless her, she hung in there. So I blathered. Oh, my, did I!
At one point I heard myself reference the early Quakers and their historic interest in prison reform since they’d spent a fair amount of time in gaol themselves. I even mentioned Elizabeth Fry.
This morning, as I often do post-blather, I wondered if my (way too many) words had been well-chosen. Specifically I wondered what right I had to claim this history as mine.
But Quakers’ penal reform history is much a part of the brand as The Peace Testimony, right? (And, of course, we mustn’t forget that that history also includes Quakers’ well-meaning but misguided belief that sitting in penitent silence with, perhaps, a Bible, i.e. in penitentiaries, was a good idea.) “And this is our testimony to the whole world.”
The brand. A concept I both loathe and am intrigued by. (So why this post is a I; there’ll be more, I’m guessing. Especially since positioning a Quaker Oats container in other settings could be such fun!)
I am confused re brand but do know this: Prison ministry means a version of mindfulness that has enlarged my life.
PS: During that long-winded phone call, I also referenced “The House I Live In.”