Prison Prayers in a Pandemic

Prison prayers sounded more like Torey Lanez and Bryson Tiller that morning. “Keep in Touch”. God please let somebody keep in touch with me. Let my name be called at mail call. Dear God, please don’t let me be forgotten. I learned what so many others before me had already accepted. After about six months, “out of sight, out of mind” became more than just a cliché. Most relationships, no matter their nature, had about a half year shelf life when someone was incarcerated. Of course, friends and family mean well, but the shock would wear off and your absence was the new normal. At this point, I had been down about eight months and had to work hard to stay encouraged.

Since the announcement and implementation of a full lockdown on April 1st, I had stopped rising quickly to meet the day with gratitude and optimism. I would just lay there, in that twin metal bunk bed, with my eyes closed for a moment repeating my mantra of a prayer silently. “God, please let them call my name today. Please let them say I am going home soon. You know I can’t make it eight more months.” Every day was the same and I was running out of the fuel of gratitude to sustain me.

I would lie quietly just to prolong the reality that inevitably flooded my consciousness. Fluorescent lights, someone trying to steal my cereal, back pain from inappropriate accommodations, something would remind me of my location soon enough. When my mom passed, I used to have this feeling as the sun came into my bedroom window and crossed my closed eyelids. I could see the bright yellows and reds that filled my soul with comfort and relief. For just a second, I lived in the paradise version of my life. In that place, that cerebral Garden of Eden, I was still in the last place I stood before the newest tragedy fell on me. Suddenly, as if I had been shaken by an invisible messenger, I was awakened. As my eyes popped open, I realized that, again, for the 200th day, that this was still not Eden. I was still in hell with no ice water and no escape plan. I prayed for more sleep, but slumber and freedom were on the run from me like fugitive slaves. They ducked and dodged me, as they ran through streams and puddles so that I would lose their scent. I was in a great chase and did not even have a pair of good running shoes, just those busted Reebok Classics that Ms. V gave me when I first got there.

Dear Reader,

This is where I leave you to write more. As opposed to just making blog posts, I am working on a gourmet piece of non-fiction. I will now use this blog to serve you appetizers as I work to prepare a delicious work of written culinary satisfaction. My goal is to produce a meal that touches all of your senses as you work to digest it. My desire is that you savor every bite of information, so that it feeds your soul and you can then share an intellectual meal with someone else.

This is where I am your spa director. I plan to massage you to awakeness and you float effortlessly into a being who heals and helps, and chooses to never pass judgement again.

This is where I am your tour guide. You have already bought your ticket, so you might as well sit back and enjoy the journey. We are going to travel to places you have been many times before, but this time I will give you a new set of glasses so that you can see through a different lense.

Thank you Reader. I offer my sincerest gratitude for you agreeing to trust me and be a kind receiver of my vulnerability.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Claudia

Author: Claudia L. Shivers

I am a Mom. A grandmother. An entrepreneur. A Social Justice Advocate. A Community Leader. A Social Capital Builder. A Truth Teller.

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