“Its a reminder that there is beauty on the outside. It is what allows for hope in here.”
Twice a month, there’s a small team from Mary’s Place that heads into the Seattle Jail. We go in and meet with women who will be released soon and know they will be homeless when they get out. We go to tell them about Mary’s Place, to let them know of all the services we offer. We go to offer a Chance for Change, a Chance for a New Beginning – which has become the name of our jail ministry. We lead groups like those led daily at Mary’s Place; a short time of mediation with a reading, talking through steps of seeking safety and recognizing PTSD, we share stories from Mary’s Place. The women get a chance to ask questions, they get involved in the discussions. There is a pen-pal system, where volunteers from the Church write to the women inside the jail – to let them know that they are valued, and that when they get out, there is a place they are welcome. That we’ll meet them outside of the jail and show them the way to Mary’s Place, where there will be a fresh outfit and a warm meal waiting.
As we were gathering our books and papers to leave the jail this week, one of the ladies walked up to me, Bible in hand.
“I have a question for you ma’am.” She opened her Bible, and showed me a photograph, simple in nature. A single flower, light pink, in a bed of green. It wasn’t a prize winning photograph. It looked like something taken in motion, a little blurry. Just a simple picture of a simple flower. “Do you know who took this picture?”
Slightly confused, I told her I did not. She then informed that me that her previous bunk-mate had a pen pal from Mary’s Place. When her bunk-mate got out, she had left this picture behind, the picture that had come in her letter from her pen pal.
“I don’t know why she left it behind. I just can’t imagine why. But I’m glad that she did. I put it in my Bible, right here. And I look at it every morning, and every night. I look at it whenever I am feeling sad. Its a reminder that there is beauty on the outside. It is what allows for hope in here. That some lady who don’t even know me or my friend would take the time to send this in here, well, its beautiful. So, could you find out who took this picture? And tell her, well, tell her that sometimes, this picture is the only thing that helps me through the day.”
Simple beauty. A simple gesture. A lasting impression.