“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds…” – Hebrews 10:24
Sometime back in the ’80s, Skagit County decided to build a new jail. The original building was located on top of the courthouse, a metal structure that was probably freezing in the winter, steaming hot in the summer, and miserably cramped. The new design promised to be the latest in technology, larger, safer, and full of cameras. My husband Dennis was a paramedic at Skagit Valley Hospital and he and the rest of his crew were invited to visit the jail before it was officially opened so if they had to go and pick up an inmate they would have an idea of the layout and protocols. I was permitted to join the tour and gathered with the group outside THE DOOR on that chilly day. The portal opened silently and our guide pointed out that it was six inches thick but it wasn’t quiet when it closed after we entered, it made a huge booming noise. The rest of the tour showed us no privacy, hundreds of cameras, and a special room with a drain in the middle of the floor for inmates detoxing from alcohol or drugs. No way I wanted to end up in that facility.
Last year, a group of us at St. Paul’s formed an OPOP team, One Parish, One Prisoner. OPOP is an organization that matches an inmate who is going to be released with a dedicated team with the hope that with support, love, prayers, and visits, when this person is liberated from the prison’s walls, they will not return because of a lack of housing, food, driver’s license, programs to help with drug and alcohol addiction, absence or no family members, unpaid fines and no money.
I’m not sure why our incarcerated friend was chosen for us but I feel it deep in my soul that he will be like the starfish I picked up on the beach in Florida and placed back in the ocean so it would survive, that with our OPOP team, the OPOP organization that started us on our journey, our congregation, the community and with God’s help, he will survive.
Thank you, Lord, for helping us to heal and restore a person with love and good works. Amen.
-Mary Ann Taylor