I entered the women’s prison with my keyboard on my hip and my Bible in my hand. My plan was to bring them to Christ through music and psalms. I had good intentions but God had other plans.
I surveyed the scene, praying the Jesus Prayer intensely. Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner. Such bedlam and cursing I had never seen. They looked me in the eye. I looked back with a “Holy Mother of God help them and help me” smile. While I was not sure of how to proceed, I knew that what comes from the heart, reaches the heart.
I asked someone to pray. Then I prayed standard opening Orthodox prayers. We chanted the 23rd psalm. Then I opened with 2 songs: This little light of mine and amazing grace. I thought I had things under control, when suddenly a large women twice my size approached me.
“Give me that keyboard,” she demanded. Flabbergasted, I mumbled “Sure.”
With her large hands, she turned that flimsy keyboard into an instrument more beautiful than David’s harp. The beastly attitudes faded. Loving voices lofted through the prison. Yes it is true. When words fail, music speaks (Hans Christian Anderson).
Alas, I was the one whose beastly holier than thou attitude was healed. Alas, I saw how God gives his gifts as he wills, and often hides them in prison. Alas, the women learned to love God and each other through music. Alas, the healing presence of Christ runs both ways.
I volunteered an inch but God showed us His mile. I sang a song but God has a song for everyone. Yes it is true, as the mother of Fr Moses Berry tells us: God loves all the flowers in His Garden.
Dr. Carla Thomas
OCPM Board Member