Tuesday is prison day – one of my lifelines. I’ve been wanting to do this for years and I so enjoy it. I feel I’m made for it. I’d hate to have to let it go with all that’s happening to us. I achieved an ambition there yesterday by getting to visit someone in solitary. It’s been four months now since I’ve been a fully-fledged chaplain. Getting the right balance between making waves and asserting yourself is a challenge, but it seems I made this request at about the right point. Eleven guys made it to the service and we had a good time. One of them prayed, which is another first – I usually do all the praying. I realised that I have a big advantage over the rest of the family right now, which is that I have a group to worship with, where I have no personal issues with people… not really a "family service", though.
When I got out there was a message on my mobile from Mrs E. saying that the chairman of the church trustees had phoned to arrange to see me about my severance details. My insides turned to jelly and I realised that while I might be feeling better, all the yuck is still there not far beneath the surface. I called back and arranged to meet him on Thursday. It doesn’t look as if they are going to be begging me to come back, anyway.
In the evening Mrs. E had invited some sympathisers round to pray and chat. I was emotionally ragged by that time, but it was good to be able to pray amongst friends and talk through some of our dreams, regrets, and values. I went through a list of things I thought were important, which I’d saved on computer under the title "Adullam’s cave" – where David gathers his unruly mob when on the run from Saul. It was pretty much like that. In addition to Mrs E and me, our mighty warriors were three single mums – Maria, ex-convict turned social worker and with us almost from the beginning; Angela, ex-prostitute living on invalidity benefit; and Josie, long-term unemployed, but employed by our social action charity for the last few years and doing a great job (the job club she runs has a phenomenal success rate. But I can’t go because it happens when I’m in the prison!).
All five of us have had major rows with each other over the years, but here we are, together for now. One of our main conclusions from the evening is that when people say they are saying something to you "in love", they aren’t. Oh, and the four values I mentioned, were:
– living in the grace of God
– changing our thinking
– being involved in society
– integrating the exluded
"Vaste programme", as we say here. And I have absolutely no idea what that might add up to in practical terms.
This morning’s news: Mrs E is not preganant. At least, we are "99% sure" (that’s what it says here) that she isn’t. No, wait: we are 99% sure that she isn’t definitely pregnant. Well, that clears that up. Um…?