This Thursday is the last advent service in the prison and Saturday I’m doing a memorial service for those in the unit that have died this year [at the prison’s request – certainly not of my own choosing], along with a christmas service. The memorial service is compulsory, unless we can talk the prison out of that. There have been a lot of deaths in there this year, but really, they want this on christmas day?
I read the stories for advent 4 in the hopes of getting some inspiration. I didn’t like them, so I went to the christmas eve stories. I couldn’t escape it though: the line that seemed written in bold, in everything i read, was ‘Do not be afraid’. Anything but that, i thought, but i think i’m going to have to go there…
Do not be afraid
the angels said
over and over.
I wonder what they would know
and what right they have to preach against it.
Do not be afraid.
[I think these are the same angels who say
‘buck up!’ to the depressive
or ‘it will all turn out ok’ to the heartbroken.
I stifle the urge to slap them.]
I picture the men I would say the words to
broken beyond repair
silent and babbling
grasping for life
frightened for every good and necessary reason.
I chew my pen
searching for the way into the impossible
feeling stifled by the irony
that i am not the one who should be doing this,
i was just the one who said yes.
Do not be afraid of being chosen,
or of being the one who could be the gift of love.
i squeeze the story again
into palatable squares of white bread
to be consumed by the ravenously hungry.
it will have to do.