Friday, October 31, 2014

What was really on my mind

There is a time for everything…a time to weep and a time to laugh
Ecclesiastes 3

It was a whiskey-tasting class, a fund-raiser for HFP, and people were having fun.  I was asked to say a few words.  I had to put on a smile and talk about the good things. 

I couldn’t really talk about Suzie, wife of a prisoner, who fears for his life.  A guy killed his bunkie in the prison where her husband resides a few nights ago.  The next day three more prisoners were stabbed.  She can’t be there with him, and she worries a lot.

It wouldn’t have been appropriate to tell about a prisoner named Donna, who wrote to say that healthcare workers ignored her pleas for treatment until she collapsed and had to be raced to a hospital by ambulance.  Surgery barely saved her life.  She was in the hospital for 5 weeks.  She will wear an ileostomy bag for the rest of her life.

I’m sure John’s story would have aroused undue skepticism.  This military veteran showed me the documents of admission to a VA hospital, where the intake notes clearly state that he was hearing voices ordering him to kill a man with his own gun in his own home.  Instead, he was discharged, the VA claiming he wasn’t sick enough to remain hospitalized.  He went right out and did just what the voices told him, and now he’s serving life.

And this was certainly not the time to hear Mark’s complaint about prison staff.  He was so pleased to have his mom and dad, plus two of his adult children come from out-of-state to attend his graduation ceremony.  The kids paid $3 each for four very neat photographs of the whole bunch.  But the guards confiscated the pictures as they left the facility, and now the photographs cannot be found.

No, last night wasn’t the time or the place, but those were among yesterday’s stories lingering in my mind.  The fund-raiser was simply a reason to keep this operation going, because there will be more stories today just like those from Susie, Donna, John and Mark.  Possibly worse.  And we must be there, if for no other reason than to hold hands in Christian love.

A time to laugh, and a time to weep.

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