I Pray, by Erika East
Erika: Often on the Selah blog, we get the privilege of hearing from one of our friends who is an inmate in a maximum security prison. We connected with these women through the Lipscomb LIFE program, an educational program that enables women who are admitted to earn an associate of arts degree in seven years. Erika is a very special person with a heart for helping others. She writes about family, loss, prayer, acceptance, and grace through God’s loving presence and divine intervention in her experiences.
To hear more of Erika’s story read: https://selahspiritual.com/erikas-story/
“What is a spiritual practice that has been meaningful to you in this season?” I thought about this question, and the practice that has been the most meaningful to cope with our concerns of the world has been prayer. More prayer than I would have thought possible. Some prayers are the usual “Almighty Father” to begin, others sound like Judy Blume’s Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret type of prayers. Often I wonder if God isn’t tempted to grab a remote and hit the mute button which only makes me laugh since every report card in elementary school said “talks too much”.
As I watch the news and see what is going on in the world, there is much to be concerned about. The pandemic has changed everyone’s world even from inside the walls. We have to wear a mask every where we go. We have not been able to assemble for church services and we cannot visit with our families. We can call them o the phone and are provided with two five-minute free calls per week but we cannot see our families as our facility does not have a video chat option. I feel deep pain for the mothers and grandmothers in here who cannot see their children and grandchildren and they cannot see their mothers and grandmothers in turn. If the time to see each other had been short, then it would have been understandable, however we are moving into our fourth month. It concerns me to think about the bond between mothers and their children and how this will have an adverse affect on the children. I also worry about my own relationships will family and close friends; they can no longer see me with their own eyes so will I just continue to fade away further into this place?
I see the protests in response to the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd and others. I cannot understand why people are still being slaughtered because of the color of their skin. I do not understand why the protests because violent and either people were hurt and businesses already struggling from the pandemic were broken into, looted or burnt down. I understand the necessity of the police but I don’t understand how someone with such obvious racists ideals can even pass a police entrance exam but then I wonder who wrote that exam?
So I pray. I talk to God. A lot. I may pray instantly about something I see on TV, hear on the radio or read in a newspaper. I may revisit that prayer later on that evening or when I wake up for no apparent reason at 3:00 am. If I could not pray, I think that would be the end of my sanity. I want to be able to do something to help with the pandemic, the protests, and the community but from behind the walls there is not much that I can do. I know some ladies are able to sew masks and send them out to bless others. I am not sure what I can contribute so I pray. I pray often and I pray for unity of people. I am so tired of watching people have issues with others because of their skin color, their religion, or their sexual orientation.
I think about the things that we used to do here at the prison. We had a Black History month program; we don’t do that anymore. I loved learning the history of different leaders and those who fought for change. We don’t really participate in any fundraisers anymore. From prison, the options are limited as to what we can do, but buying a simple box of doughnuts or pizza as a fundraiser is something. We can at least put some money back into a program but for now we are in a convenient box where society no longer has to think about us and any contribution that we could give is no longer thought about even though many of of those incarcerated will one day be a part of society again.
So limited options and opportunities, I continue to do the only thing that I can do without feeling any type of oppression; I pray.
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