VOICES FROM THE INSIDE
Updated: Jan 22
Stories and poetry from our beloved sisters and brothers incarcerated in the L.A. County Jails.
START WITH YOU
How can there be injustice in the middle of proclamation and anthems of equality that we all venerate and subscribe to? If you truly look deeply into the ethical conscience of our society, the deficiencies in our personal thoughts and intentions will be the start to the answer as to why we sustain an unjust existence. The pursuit of happiness is killed every time our thoughts and beliefs make the heart desire power and control to exert over another human being.
The deceit that is laid bare before us all to stomach is consumed with gusto. We allow behavior that murders Love. All of this goes on and on while we direct our attention to the almighty drive of self-preservation which breeds callousness, or a subtle but powerful indifference. The weight of all the wrongdoings through the generations is carried around by us all. There is no escape for the perpetrator or the victim. We share a misery and torment which fear masks appropriately according to which side of the spectrum we fall under.
How can we bring about real change? We must forge an allegiance with one another that champions empathy. We have to learn not to lie to ourselves about the reality we all partake in. We must find a way to subvert the customs and traditions that have festered in our halls and chambers of leadership. On the one hand, we need to fully acknowledge, and on the other hand, we need to forgive.
Give effort to investigate the facts before reaching conclusions that will subconsciously draw a line in the sand for you. We must never tolerate prejudice talk or action in our presence. We must give respect to all the cultures we are surrounded by. Through education and wisdom we must resist and fight the suppression of opportunity and advancement of all who deserve it. Grandiose speeches are handy, and the words of understanding enlighten the unaware, but for this writer, the adherent power within everyone to create an energy that might seem insignificant in the face of such enormous conformity will spearhead the real movement of change.
Our humanity will not be silenced. It screams for it’s survival. I commend those who are pushing for change and reform – District Attorney George Gascon, the Community of Divine Love, PRISM Restorative Justice, my dear , Brother Dennis and Sister Greta, and the many that believe that this is the time for needed change.
- Michael A. Smith is a Divine Companion with the Community of Divine Love.
“While I was incarcerated in Men’s Central Jail, Sacred Journey was the only place where I had a spiritual outlet that allowed an opportunity to feel loved by God. It gave me a lot of hope in a place and time in my life where hope was scarce. I am deeply grateful for Sacred Journey because it was where I began to change my ways and better my life.”
“We could not ask for a better voice, pen, and advocate than Prism to fight on behalf of all of us who call you friends.”
-Nikolaus O. – California State Prison – Tehachapi
In life we continuously come across people that inspire us. Most inspire us for short periods of time, a day a mont
h, perhaps even a year. Sacred Journey, on the other hand, continues to inspire me even years after my release. Brother Dennis was able to create a very rare, sacred space that will undoubtedly continue to be a source of inspiration for the rest of my life. It has been almost 2 years since my release, and I write this sitting at the Community of Divine Love monastery, a testament to the power of Sacred Journey.
-Danny “3-D” Hoyas
Through Prism, the Lord has blessed me with a friend closer than a brother. I am deeply grateful for our spiritual journey. I have become at peace and more sure of the Lord’s love with every letter we share.
-Larry · California State Prison – Lancaster
Just when I was ready to give up, I found goodness, love, and acceptance when I walked into the Episcopal Church service in Men’s Central Jail. That day saved my life – literally. Having you to walk this spiritual path of recovery with and work through trauma is healing me in ways I never thought possible.
-Will – Valley State Prison
THE INCARCERATED DESERT MOTHERS
Thank you for the book on the Desert Mothers. I LOVE IT! I wrote down some of the phrases/words that really spoke to me. Here are a few:
- “Words reveal our heart. Be wise in what we say.”
- “Take responsibility for your actions.”
- “Mindlessness is the enemy of the journey.”
- “The cell is a place of spiritual combat and a place where one finds their truest self and deepened awareness of one’s woundedness” (I love that one).
- “in Simplicity one experiences the abundance of God’s presence.”
- “We carry ourselves wherever we go and we cannot escape temptation by mere flight.”
I just finished reading Open Mind, Open Heart. It’s really great and super helpful. I would love more information on meditation. I want to circulate these things to my desert sisters here in the module. But The Book of Common Prayer is my favorite. You can tell by how worn it is. I do the daily devotions as in the morning (8am), noon (11-12), early evening (5:30pm) and at the close of day (8:15pm). I feel connected, knowing that the monks at Community of Divine Love are praying at these same times. I also read psalm 103 and can now almost recite it by heart. I also love to read the Catechism Q & A. I am constantly finding cool stuff in the Book of Common Prayer.
- Rosa is a friend on the inside