|Sunrise on the way to Lee Arrendale Prison|
Have you ever been
to prison? I have.
Today as I was driving home from a terrific performance I was thinking about how to articulate the experience.
It all started over 10 years ago when Sheila Collins, a mentor and friend, started working with prisoners in TX using InterPlay. She invited me to participate and I definitely felt the call. Unfortunately due to scheduling, young kids and the 180 mile drive I was unable to participate at that time.
One of my teachers said to me recently, "When you're on this path....
Fast forward to June 23rd (the day after my 44th bday) - This was the day I went to training at Lee Arrendale State Prison for volunteers.
Then in August my colleague Jennifer Denning and I started a 12 week series of weekly Friday InterPlay. It ended up being 16 weeks of InterPlay - yahooo!!!
The first day I was nervous. I didn't know what to expect. Pulling up to the parking lot you see the 5 rows of barbed razor wire lining the fence that surrounds the prison. You walk into the front door and go through the metal detector. No cell phones allowed. ID required. You turn in your keys and id and sign in. From there you go out one door through 4 more locked (very distinctive clunks) and officer controlled doors, a long walk and two more padlocked gates to make it to one of the locked education buildings. Two more locked gates and a locked classroom and we were good to go for two hours.
We were allowed to enter
through the Reforming Arts Program.
Throughout the sixteen weeks we heard stories, used our voices to create songs and moved individually and in groups. We were building towards a performance.
Interplay has always been Grace Making for me. We shared that concept with the ladies. We laughed, sometimes teared up and we danced.
Jennifer my co-leader wrote a great blog about our experience: A Glimpse into InterPlay at Lee Arrendale State Prison.
The ladies gave an amazing improv InterPlay performance last week our program was finished for the semester.
So why did I go back today?
I was invited. I had made connections with these women and felt called to show up for them. Four of the ladies from our group were part of another performance group called the Showstoppers and today they presented: Love, Peace & Forgiveness - This is Not Our Final Destination. They were performing for the women in diagnostics - these are the women new to the prison system. One of the women who invited me told me she participated to help lift the women's spirits.
Several women sang gospel songs that I had not heard before and they were very well received.
The ladies danced, did several spoken word poems and produced an amazing event. It was uplifting, inspirational and expansive.
That pretty much sums up my experience with this important work. I could tell you about the lack of self-defense laws in GA and what an impact it makes on women. I could tell you about stories of abuse that led to bad choices. I know most of the women I met are not innocent. I also know they are human beings and deserve to be treated as such. I could talk about reform. I think John Oliver does a good job about talking about some of the problems in the system so if you have a few minutes it's worth the view:
Wrapping you around with infinite love and peace,