Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Free on the Inside

Brother Victor died last Tuesday night, apparently after suffering a seizure. He was a gentle, somewhat quiet man who had been at the Fully Alive Bible Study at the Auburn Correctional Facility as long as I have been attending. The thing I most remember about him was his faithful service as the person who got water in a pitcher and poured it for each guest and man in the chapel. It was a much needed relief in the often hot, humid worship space. The heat in the chapel during the summer has been nearly unbearable at times - and even occasionally in winter, extraordinarily overheated and warm.

What a sad place to end your life – in prison. Yet what a joyous welcome Victor must have had coming into the presence of Jesus our Savior and friend!

I often think of the distribution of water as one of the ways the men can minister to us, rather than always being on the receiving end of our presence for prayer, praise and study. Sometimes we've seen a more mature Christian man directing a newer one in this act of service.

So last night and this evening, when I have another scrapbook project I want to be working on, I'm creating a scrapbooked scripture card to add to my collection that sits beside my prayer chair.  I've used songs and pictures and occassional stories to illustrate the meaning certain scripture has for me.  Interestingly, several have been created in response to experiences worshiping and studying with the men in the prison chapel.  It's holy ground for me, and I've learned so much from these incarcerated men, about how they have found freedom on the inside with Jesus Christ.

The scripture I'm using is Matthew 25:37&40.  There's lots of good stuff in that chapter but these verses speak to me of Victor's service -

"Lord, when did we see you...thirsty and give you something to drink?"  The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of hte least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What do You do With a Bathtub Full of Water?

I feel a little like I imagine the Gulf Coast residents feel after preparations for a hurricane that doesn’t materialize.

The city had a major leak in a 90 year old water pipe that required repair. They issued warnings that water service would be disrupted overnight and if the simple fix didn’t work it would require shutting off the water entirely and then a boil water advisory for a couple of days. “Stock up on bottled water and fill your bathtub with water for toilet flushing.” I used our camping jug to collect 3 gallons of drinking water in the kitchen and filled the tub at lunchtime. When I got home from work, I was surprised to find the tub empty – obviously the drain stopper wasn’t working, so I called Paul who bought a new one on his way home from work and we repeated the ‘fill the tub’ process. We made sure to run the dishwasher, set up the coffee pot, and took showers before we went to bed.

This morning, I checked online (amazing what you can find on the internet!) and learned from a 3:30 am press release the repair was successful – not only could I flush the toilet, I could also safely drink the water. Yesterday at work my coworkers were a mix of half those who hadn’t a clue about the situation, and half who were panicking and freaked out, buying up cases of water and fretting about possibly not taking a shower before work. (I can identify with the shower issue, though I’ll happily do a sponge bath as long as I can wash my hair each morning. I once washed it in a frigid lake – oblivious to the hazards of discharging all that soap into the environment – and have used more than a couple mop sinks in church basements while on weekend retreats.)

One of my earliest blogs was The Blessing of Running Water – October 9, 2009. I’ve cheerfully paid my water bill ever since then, often taking the chance to tell the clerk or the ladies staffing the Help Desk at City Hall about my experience carrying water in the Dominican Republic.

In the wake of the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, for which a lot of New Orleans residents didn’t evacuate but later wished they had, I wonder just how many times you get warned about something like a hurricane or potential water shut off, and then simply ignore it. It didn’t take all that long to prepare for our water situation (an extra trip to the store, and a bit of planning on our part before bedtime.) We are so blessed with basic necessities like plenty of running water and we take it so much for granted until it might not be there.

Now what am I going to do with a tub full of water? Seems a waste to just pull the plug!