it’s been a really hot day in melbourne today. it would have been in the mid 30’s by the time i got to the prison… one of the men asked if the weather was as hot outside the prison as it was in, and i honestly don’t think it was… maybe the heat bounces off the concrete walls… i’m doing advent services each week with the men from the unit that houses inmates with intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries. i’m also going in on christmas day to do worship with them, and with the men from another unit – none of whom i know. that’ll be a challenge. because i feel like i need more challenges…
i haven’t been in to the prison for a few months, not since before the mid-year trip to the UK. some of the men had remembered that i was going away and wanted to hear about it… i’d almost forgotten i’d been there myself.
it’s a shock to go back into the prison. i’d forgotten so much – or i’d remembered it, but it had become a caricature of itself so i didn’t really believe the memory anymore. it actually really is that bad, that soul destroying. i need to keep going in so that stays fresh, because it changes how i write.
i led worship – there were three men from the unit who came, none of whom i’d met before, by memory. the prison had been in lock down for most of the day as many of the prison officers were at a funeral for a colleague. the men were a bit stir crazy as a result. i knew that what i’d prepared was wrong as soon as i walked in the door – it would have worked, just, if i’d had the group i had last time. but with this group of men i had too many words, too much abstraction. the candle lighting was lovely, though. maybe we’ll do that next time and get them each to light a candle as they pray for hope. i took in some prints of Banksy’s paintings on the segregation wall. they quite liked them. we talked about what pictures of hope we’d paint on the prison fence, but their faces looked too sad at that point, so i moved the conversation on pretty quickly.
advent is a crappy time to do worship in prison. too much talk of revolution and promises that just don’t hold water. it’s very easy to sound like a fraud – to be a fraud, really. i was listening to what i was saying and wanting me to just shut up. but they were lovely and gracious, and seemed, well, used to it.
tomorrow morning i’m meeting with a chaplain from one of our major hospitals. she wants to talk about worship for patients in the acute psych unit on christmas eve.
i’m developing a healthy dose of wrath to unleash on the next person who tells me that alternative worship is pretentious, or just about being hip or contemporary.
there’s a beer waiting for me out the back in my gorgeous wee garden where the trees have parrots, and the fences have no razorwire. next time i post i’ll be less grotty and self indulgent. promise.