the bits that were missing

From the prison yesterday:

The psalms of boredom are missing from the Bible…

How long must I wait, God?

Every day is the same
Time seems to stand still
It’s the same thing just on a different day
Time goes by so slowly.

How long must I wait, God?

The days are marked only
by the constant musters
and the loneliness when I get locked away by myself

How long must I wait, God?

All I do is listen to the same stories
day in and day out
of people talking about drugs and crime

How long must I wait, God?

Every day I ask for forgiveness
and happiness
I hope for a better life
I just want to be able to be myself

How long must I wait, God?

Every day I wait for the good times to come
for the love of my family
for good intentions

How long must I wait, God?

– Billy

How long must I wait, God?

Every day is the same
I wake up and I see the same things every day
The news is never good
Each week it’s the same thing
I dream at night that I’m home, I wake up and I’m here.

How long must I wait, God?

The only things that happen
are the same things, day by day.
The officers stare at me, all the time
every move is watched
I get sent to bed like a kid at 7.30
even if the sun is still shining.

I look at the same walls in my cell.

How long must I wait God?

We do nothing new
it’s the same shit every day
Kitchen food
giving orders to billets
the same ones, over and over.
We get counted
we look at the walls
will it be forever?

How long must I wait, God?

Every day I ask for my kids and family to be safe
I hope my health stays good
so I can be healthy with them when I’m out.

How long must I wait, God?

Every day I get up and wait for that miracle
for it to be time for me to leave
that the parole board will change its mind
and today will be the day.

How long must I wait, God?

– Phil

here endeth the psalms.

it’s been such a good experience to do these…i’ve learnt a lot about working with a group who don’t have the foggiest idea about creative process and have low literacy skills. each week they would say that there was no way they could do it. much of the success lay in making the process foolproof: i wrote questions or sentence starters to begin the process, and we changed them as the conversation went along if they didn’t sit quite right. the more structure we gave them, the better. after that, the writing took care of itself – the men just took to it like fish to water. and the psalms were much better to write than prayers – it felt like a much more honest process.

i’m going to go back in a month or so to do a few services based around music. i also have this idea for the women’s prison – writing some of the stories in the gospel from the perspectives of the women who are in them…


  1. Lyn

    What you are doing in the prisons is really encouraging Cheryl. The psalms you have shared I have no words for, they seem to have really come from each persons heart. Looking forward to reading more about the gospel stories and how they progress at the women’s prison. Bless you.

  2. The psalms these men have shared are beautiful in their honesty and openness. Thank you for giving us the privilege to read their words.

  3. thanks so much Lyn and Laura. i was saying to the chaplain yesterday that it seemed much easier to do this stuff with these men than it does with a group of people on the outside. weird.

  4. Cheryl, you have so touched my heart from a world away – the truth and honesty in these psalms moves me so deeply.

    Please if you can post the women’s gospel stories too – I can hardly wait for those.

Comments are closed.