Tag Archives: Prison

Never forgotten

We, or at least I, often never know the impact we, I, have on one another. Sometimes all it takes is showing simple kindness and decency.

She moved across the hall, clearly intent on talking to me before the meeting began. Although it had been years, I recognized her. She had taken part in a group working on prison-related issues. I had been the staff to the group. I recognized her. But I could not recall her name.

“Do you remember me?” she asked before we had a chance to shake hands.

I answered truthfully. “I do. But I am sorry, I don’t recall your name.” I took her hand.

She smiled and told me her name. I smiled back.

“I will never forget you,” she said.

I shifted my weight, a tad uncomfortable.

“I came to you with my husband in prison. In prison for murder. Murder he had done.”

I shook my head in agreement.

“I asked if I would be welcome at the group you were with. That group working on prisons and prisoners. I was nervous, so nervous, because my husband was guilty. I felt alone, so alone. I could not find a place to talk about my husband and what he faced. Not in my church. Not in my community. I was desperate for support. I thought that group might be a place. But I was scared. Scared they would not want me either. But I was more scared of being alone. I finally got up my courage and asked you.”

“I remember,” I replied. Somehow my throat had become dry all of a sudden.

Tears pooled in her eyes.

“And do you remember what you said?”

She did not give me a chance even to nod. “You did not hesitate. You said, ‘Of course you would be welcome.’ And then you said, ‘If anyone has a problem with me being there you would speak with them.'”

“I did,” somehow I scratched the words out. Her tears flowed freely.

“It turned out that no one had a problem. I found a place I could tell my story freely and where people accepted me and loved me. I found a family in that group. They stood by me and they stood with me when my husband died in prison. They were wonderful. But none of that would have happened without you. None of that would have happened without your kindness to me. I will never forget you. God bless you”

The dryness of my throat was exceeded only by the wetness of my cheeks. And since words would not come, I did what I rarely do, I opened my arms and offered a hug.

And we hugged and wept together for a holy moment.

When I regained control of my voice I said, “Thank you for telling me. I am sorry about your husband’s death.”

“He was a good man. He had his flaws. And one big one. But I did love him.”

I smiled. “I knew that every time you talked about him.”

She scuffed the floor a bit. “When I saw you tonight, I had to tell you. I will never forget you.” We shook hands, smiled, and went our separate ways.

I have never seen her since that night.

But I have never forgotten her.

See you along the trail.

 

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, Friends

A tribute to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Island, Prison, Quarry

On an island they would hide him
Separate him from the cause
He would not let them hide him
And his spirit it still soared
From the island his spirit soared.

In prison cell they would hold him
From his spirit choke all life
He would not let them hold him
And his spirit remained true
In prison cell he still stayed true

In the quarry they would break him
Crush his spirit like a stone
He would not let them break him
And his spirit remained strong
In the quarry he stayed strong

From the island, prison, quarry
One fine day he freely strode
And in his spirit we could see
That he was already free
Lord he always had been free.

His soaring spirit true and strong
Keeps him walking to this day
Won’t you rise and come along
And to freedom we will walk
It is to freedom that we walk

Originally written in 1990, this piece is no less sincere for its inadequacy to do justice to the man.

 

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Freedom of expression and association for student leaders

Today’s letter in the Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon focused on two student leaders in Iran: Majid Tavakkoli and Behareh Hedayat. Amnesty reports that they have been imprisoned simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. Amnesty notes:

Majid Tavakkoli was arrested and reportedly beaten, after speaking at a university rally in Tehran to mark National Student Day in December 2009.  Behareh Hedayat was arrested later that same month after a video recording of a speech she gave was widely circulated on the internet.

The letter asked for the immediate and unconditional release of Majid Tavakkoli and Behareh Hedayat. It further asked that they should receive access to adequate medical care, including assessment and treatment by an independent specialist outside of prison if necessary. Finally it reminded the Head of Iran’s judiciary of the country’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Sign up to participate in the Write-a-thon.

Find resources for the Write-a-thon, including sample letters to adapt.

Learn about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international human rights framework.

See you along the Trail.

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