Intestinal issues, mental illness, wrongful conviction...all in a day's work. Even on Sunday!


O day of rest and gladness,

O day of joy and light 

I love this old hymn, composed by Christopher Wordsworth back in 1862, but it doesn’t really describe typical Sundays of this octogenarian.

I look forward to being busy on Sunday! I’m a church musician, and the older I get the more it feels like music soothes my soul. Sunday the 19th was particularly busy, because I was the only keyboard musician on duty that day. I played both organ and piano during the service. When I finally returned home, it was time to crash. I mixed up a Bloody Mary, grabbed the Sunday newspaper, and plopped on the couch. 

Within the hour a telephone call. It was my friend Brad, in a Michigan prison. Could I find some help for a fellow inmate? David, who lives in a cell right across from him, has been experiencing physical problems for the past couple of years. When he goes to the bathroom, a part of his bowel actually comes out, and so each time he is forced to put his body back together again. It’s painful and embarrassing. The state does nothing for him but provide stool softeners and sterile gauze. I know the MDOC well enough to realize that there likely will be no positive response. But, of course I’ll try. That’s why we’re here. 

After reading my newspaper I decided to check weekend email. It’s a good thing, because George was trying to reach me. George wanted to discuss a fellow inmate who is mentally challenged. Tim is now ready for parole. But, no one knows whether Tim has family or friends who can take him. His mind isn’t clear enough to provide answers. I’m not sure we can find someone or some agency that can help Tim, but what a shame. The Parole Board will set him free, but no one wants him. Of course I’ll try. That’s why we’re here. 

Late afternoon, and the telephone rang again! Sheesh, it’s Sunday, my friends…day of rest and gladness! It’s a television investigative reporter from Detroit. He’s investigating the alleged wrongful conviction of my friend Andrew. Andrew is one of our first clients. He was in his 30s when I first called on him in prison. He’s in his 50s now, having served 29 years. Andrew had some learning disabilities and a lower-than-normal IQ. I would not have been surprised to learn that the Detroit police persuaded him to sign a confession, knowing that he could not read or write. This broadcast newsman is trying to find the truth, and had questions for me. Could I spare a few minutes? Of course I’ll help. That’s why we’re here. 

It would be quite a stretch to call Sunday a day of rest. 

Yet, it was definitely a day of gladness. 

These people matter!



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