Friday, August 15, 2008

Four More of Swords


In my Four of swords blog entry last week I mentioned negotiating the obstacle course of Chapel use. The first service I participated in took place out on "The Yard". That probably conjures images of inmates working out, mingling in groups, walking a yard surrounded by a high fence and guards. This is accurate, and in the middle of all that there was a small group of men circled around a white clothe laid on the ground topped with several small objects which were carved from soap.

It was already over 97 degrees that morning when I arrived and there is no shade available on the open field. During the ritual participants called quarters and defended the alter from "stray" soccer balls. There were two circles, the inner circle of participants and the outer circle of disruptive observers. Once the temperature shifted into the next heat category inmates on heat sensitive medications or restrictions were recalled and had to leave the sabbath early. Happy holidays.

When I began my program, I was happy to hear they had placed us in the chow hall for Full Moon Services. I was just happy to be out of the yard, until we got in there. It was hotter inside the dining area than it was outside, the guard didn't want us in there and politely disputed my documentation signed and sealed by the powers that be. So they put us up in the library, way too small for twenty-one inmates to do a circle, but we made do, at least it was air conditioned!

All this time the chapel was empty. So I began my slow, subtle, polite campaign to obtain chapel use. After all, it is the most suitable place to conduct religious services. Everyone else goes there to do theirs, we're not asking for much, just the same rights as everyone else...

"well...I had hoped that since you guys are an earth based faith... you would be out side..."

But we will continue to explore other options...

"...Well see the problem is the chapel is scheduled for use during that time..."

But we will continue to explore other options...

"...Well the milti-faith room is being used by the muslems for the next thirty days "in preparation" for Ramadan which will last another month..."

But we will continue to explore other options...

Then there was an incident, a shake down of the chapel resulted in the discovery of contraband. This caused a chain reaction of administrative policy changes. Including a new schedule...

Today I held three separate services, on three separate yards, all three in the chapels. As scheduled. Timing is everything.

The forth sword, my sword, lay with me. The action of inaction. Peaceful and patient. There are no victories to small. It only takes a single grain of rice to tip the scale.

Today was a really great day... to be a grain of rice.

1 comment:

Clare Slaney said...

Little grains of rice . . .good work WitchDoctor Joe! The paradox is that for people of action we have to be actively inactive.

Does yer head in sometimes.