“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:23
As detailed in my post yesterday, I am leaving to serve on the Kairos team at St. Clair prison for four days this Thursday. I have been spending much time praying and reflecting on this weekend. With Thanksgiving coming up and it being a time to reflect on what we are thankful for, I am reminded of how my previous times serving at St. Clair have made me feel thankful in ways I never think about in my daily life as a free person.
On a Kairos weekend, the inmates are served lunch and dinner. Woman back at our team location cook home-made dinners for the inmates and runners bring them into the prison. At St. Clair Prison, all the inmates have long sentences. Most 40 years or more, 70% have life without parole sentences and are never getting out. For these men, it has been years since they had a home cooked meal, and the ones they receive on this weekend will be the last ones of their life.
I remember one Kairos I worked. One of the team members I served with owned a McDonalds restaurant. He donated hundreds of quarter pounders with cheese for a lunch meal. I was sitting at a table with 6 inmates eating, and one of the inmates asked if he could have my quarter pounder. I said' "Sure I can stop on the way home and get one if I want, you can’t." The inmate said “Thank You.” I told him, “Your welcome.” He said, “No really, thank you. You see I have a life without parole sentence and it has been 23 years since I last had a quarter pounder with cheese, and yours you gave me will be the last one I eat before I die.”
We bring in metal folding chairs for the inmates to sit on. This may not seem like a “luxury” to you and I, and actually we usually hate sitting in them for an extended time period. However, to the inmates they are something special. At St. Clair, none of the places they sit have a back on them. The cafeteria and common areas where guys watch TV have tables with those built-in round seats with no backs. Out in the yard and other areas of the prison are benches. Except for the one or two times a year they get called into a prison administrators office, for the inmates this weekend will be the first time, and possibly last time they sit for an extended time in a chair with a back on it. They say it makes them feel like men.
There are so many things we receive a during every minute of every day we thanklessly take advantage of and I am sure everyone of these men in prison did as well. Until these things were taken away from them. The ability for me to sit here and post this post, and you read it, to communicate on a cell phone is one I do daily without thinking about it. Cell phones are not allowed in prison.
Read Psalm 50:23, 60:30, 95:2; 1 Cor. 1:4; 2 Cor. 2:10-12; Philippians 4:6Then take time to reflect to on all the things you have to be thankful for today.
Post any reflection, questions, words of thanksgiving in the comments section below.