the blessing of a prison chapel

i was back at the women’s prison today where the new chapel and garden were being opened. the garden is going to be planted with biblical plants – pomegranates [perfect for molasses, i hear], figs, olives… wormwood wasn’t allowed because it can be used for some less than biblical purposes…

i was talking with the buddhist chaplain afterwards, and she talked about how the air is so different in the women’s prison to the men’s. She’s right. It’s not toxic. I don’t come out feeling suffocated, I come out feeling like I can breathe.

It was a multi-faith service this morning, which i always like… i like having to find the language that speaks beyond our truths. it always feels more honest, somehow. and much simpler.

a prayer for the opening of a chapel…

In this chapel are the elements of earth, fire and water.
These have been symbols, since time began, of the most fundamental realities of our world: that life is, at once, fragile and resilient.

They remind us of the things that are most fundamental about each of our lives:
We are human –
fragile and flawed,
needing a place to belong to and a people to be part of,
reliant on forgiveness and mercy,
dependent on the promise that life can begin again.

Because while earth, fire and water are the building blocks of the world,
they are only brought to life
by a breath of grace, of hope, and love.

So we gather today to bless this chapel,
to set it apart,
so that it will be a place where we can bring the stories of our lives –
the dirt, the pain and the promise –
and know that here they will be held and changed
by grace, hope and love.