Thursday, November 19, 2015

When thanks changed my attitude

I was about to write a “poor me” blog today.  In fact, I had it half finished.  It’s not really my nature to be that negative, but when things start to go south I have to catch myself.

I was finding plenty of justification:

            Money is not coming in
            A recent speech about HFP seemed to fall flat
            A prison warden just censored email messages to two inmates.

HFP survives on contributions and gifts.  When we slip $10,000 behind budget by this time of the month we have some concerns.  Would we have to go back to some pay-less paydays?

I’m used to varied reactions to my speeches about HFP, but I never get used to the fact that some people are just not all this passionate about helping prisoners.  In my mind I quietly wonder how they’d feel if it was their son or daughter, mentally ill, being abused by staff members not properly trained for this kind of care.  I wonder how they’d feel if a handicapped member of their family was getting teased and ignored, rather than receiving compassionate concern and assistance.  While they listened politely, an all-white, middle-income audience recently expressed little response after I was finished.  That always leaves me discouraged.

And we thought we had just about gotten on top of the whole problem of censored email messages.  There was fault on both sides, and after a productive meeting at corrections headquarters we patched it up and agreed to move ahead.  But today, two messages rejected…messages that had been sent weeks ago, never arriving at their destination.  The two messages went to the same facility, where the warden is believed to have an attitude about HFP.  That type of harassment saddens me.  It would be one thing if we were trying to violate rules, or smuggle in contraband, or stir up revolutionary thoughts.  But in this case we were trying to help with arts and crafts, and with a commutation application.  We get censored when we’re trying to do good?   Phttttt!

But then my thought processes were balanced out by two beautiful women.

One was a member of that audience that I just made reference to…I had noticed that she was smiling and nodding.  She rushed up to me at the conclusion of my presentation, and asked:  “May I give you a hug?”  She quickly explained that she had had a brother who served time in a Michigan prison.  “Yours is the work of God,” she exclaimed.

And the second is a new friend from Australia, who recently paid a visit to the states and with whom I recently visited.  She claimed her friend was wrongly convicted, and had nowhere to turn.  I met her over coffee, agreed that it was a compelling case, and put her in touch with the director of an Innocence Project.  That turned out to be a successful meeting, and both this woman and the prisoner now have hope.

Said she, in an email message:  “If only there were more people like this (HFP), who go out of their way to help prisoners in need, give them a voice on the outside when no one else is willing to listen, show them compassion and give them hope.”

I was the one who needed the pickup today, and it came from these two unlikely sources.  I owe them my thanks.

The money is still a concern, but God has never failed yet.  I fall back on the words of this favorite hymn:  …All I have needed thy hand hath provided.  Great is thy faithfulness!

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