Thursday, 2 October 2014
SAWBONNA: AND SOLITARY CONFINEMENT.
In the process that is my studying here at The Atlantic School of Theology, along with celebrating the gift of living but moments from Pointe Pleasant Park, and the joy of a view of The Atlantic Ocean just outside my dorm window, is the community here. Housemates, classmates, colleagues, teachers, friends, abundant trees. And crows calling each morning. The first time I went to give an expressive writing workshop at The Calgary Remand Centre, I was deeply moved by a young man who called me to his cell. His cell was adjacent to the small room in which I was giving my workshop with several male inmates. His cell was for him alone. A cell for isolation. It was the first time I had ever gone to a prison. I went over to him during the break. We spoke for a little bit. We smiled. A "natural" conversation, probably not. What was natural was that he wanted to connect. I wanted to connect. Where two or more are gathered...Well, I am no Biblical Scholar, nor prone to quoting Scripture, though when Wisdom and poignant poetry speak, who can not listen? To be isolated, to live in solitary confinement, both of these occur even in crowded streets, stores, hallways, is to experience loss. Isolation and solitary confinement are not the same as solitude and contemplative silence, solitary walks to "listen" to nature voice. Isolation and solitary confinement are manacles of pressing, pain-full plights of being without relationship, without community. Sawbonna, I see you, invites seeing. Invites relationship. Because we nourish and are nourished with and for and by each other; because we teach and are taught with and by and for each other. In choosing to live the values of Sawbonna: respect, responsibility, relationship, we are are freed and we free ourselves from all manner of prison.