Some of the most interesting people I know live in Wisconsin State Prisons. I’ve learned many things from them, including this: “They may be ashamed of who they were, but what is important, what really matters, is who they are now and who they want to be.” And that’s just as it is with all of us, isn’t it?
This is a reminder to me of so many things I never would have known, so many people I never would have encountered, so many institutions I had never even noticed or known anything about before I took the risk of going inside the walls.
Like many, I went inside with all kinds of preconceived ideas. I first went into a maximum security prison for men about four years ago. Since then I’ve been inside eight prisons, for men and for women, many times. Sitting in a circle with them, I never know what they have done in the past, unless they choose to reveal it. I’ve learned to listen carefully to what they have to say, and to trust the wisdom in the circle.
By “taking a risk” it has made all the difference in my life.
How about you? What risks have you taken?
Ruth Poochigian, O.P.