Thursday night at 5:45, five Writers Connection authors, including director Cornelia Seigneur and I, stuff our personal belongings into small lockers. Then we drop shoes, watches, and keys onto a conveyor belt that slides them beneath a security x-ray machine just like you see at airports. Cracked gray walls and dingy concrete floors mark the path from one security checkpoint to another. Bars after bars. Cages after cages.
We make our way into a cafeteria-like room with long rectangular tables. The perimeter of the room is lined with offices for on-site clubs like Toastmasters, Asians and Lifers. Every section is boxed-in with cages. I take a few deep breaths to shake off the steadily-climbing heat and tug on my shirt collar. I push down a wave of claustrophobia. Seventy men in denim take seats at the tables.
At the 7th Step Foundation meeting, we Christian authors share essays about the grace of Christ. When I speak, my humor draws a laugh with Hamster Chutes, Lightning Bolts and Ostriches. All the writers take awards (mine wins Member’s Choice—yay!).
After the meeting, we mingle. I visit with some of the inmates. Prisoners Calvin and Ron share their stories. I ask, “How is God using incarceration to mature you?”
Friend, what do you think Calvin and Ron say?