Sunday, May 16, 2010

Prison and poetry

Indulge me. This post has nothing to do with aviation and everything to do with how the human spirit can soar.

The worship service at my church this Sunday was led by former inmates from Sing Sing, the New York State penitentiary in Ossining. What do men who have served lengthy sentences for serious crimes have to teach generally law-abiding suburban Presbyterians?

While incarcerated, they participated in a special masters degree program with New York Theological Seminary. And now they are out, "released" from the safety of the prison community. Here, in the cold, hard world of freedom, their faith is put to the test.

Listening to their testimonies, it was clear that folks who have spent years behind bars, have a rich perspective on the core concepts of Christianity: atonement, forgiveness, rebirth.

This was an unusual service for a number of reasons and in summary I can only say, you should have been there to hear them preach, pray and praise God.

But I can share with you the poetry of one man, Jafar Abbas, who led the prayer of confession, and added a poem he wrote to demonstrate his own hands-on relationship with forgiveness. I found it inspiring. I hope you do, too.

I Ain't Blamin' You by Jafar Abbas

I'm sorry
I hope I wasn't
Writing too

I had
No ideal that a pen
Could so easily break through
This forced internal silence
And set free so many
Externally loud
I was afraid to talk about it
Even to myself
I was afraid
But I needed
To confront it right?
if I was ever
Going to move forward
With my life.

To deal with it
So I could deal
With myself.

I think I
Can tell you
About it now that
I had it locked up inside
Me for so long

I was mad at you!

I bet you didn't
Know that.

You know
We got the same blood
Well really not the same
Half of mine's belongs to Mommy
But you already knew that

Did you know
Your half still fights
With Mommy's half and
I'm still stuck in the middle
Siding with Mommy
Needing my father
Wanting my own blood.

Did you know
I didn't always like this blood
The way it ran through my veins screaming
"I should kill you!"

I didn't always like this blood
This red stuff
That made the world
Look at me and see you
"He looks just like his father."

I didn't always like this blood
This blue stuff
This you in me
I thought
It would make us
Apart of each other
How far a ---- part
From each other
We have

That's the part of you
That abandoned
The part of me
that abandoned

Told you
That I was

I never told you
That I swore
"When I get big!"
"You wait, when I get big!"

I never told you
That I cried all by myself
That day you said

That day
My small world
Broke into a million
Confusingly tiny

I should have
Told you
That I loved you
And things may
Have been
All right.

I ain't blaming you
and its never
Too late.

Love you


doƱaprofe said...

the poem made me cry! what a beautiful expression of forgiveness and how wise the person who thought that these inmates could teach some very important ideas about faith...

Christine Negroni said...

Exactly the reaction I had to hearing this poem. We must be sisters!