As you might already know, I spend a lot of time in prisons. One thing you can count on in every prison I’ve every encountered is that time and schedule are a fluid thing. Let me re-state that, for inmates, schedule is fluid. When the “prison” makes a decision that something needs to happen, it happens. Think about being a small child and making a plan then your folks tell you that instead of watching your Saturday morning cartoons you are going to visit Auntie Edna in the hospital. Not nearly as much fun, but honestly, what choice do you have?!?
We started a brand new Prison Fellowship Academy this weekend. It was our first time in this particular institution, so we were trying to learn the practices and procedures, the whys and wherefores of the place. I frequently tell people that expectations are premeditated resentments, and this was definitely a case in point.
Both days that we were there we had scheduling snags that required us to just shift gears and wait. On the first night we had to wait for them to clear the count before we could release our class. On Day 2 they were experiencing fog at the institution so they had to perform a special count. We sat in the chapel (our “classroom”) for almost a full hour before any students arrived. Normally a one hour wait would invite everyone to reach for a screen, but we aren’t allowed to bring anything like that inside, so we just sat and chatted. Once the men arrived we learned that we would need to release them ten minutes before we planned in order for them to be back in their housing units before the normal count. Out of a two hour class time, we got about 50 minutes.
The awesome thing is that as Bev and I drove away from the prison we couldn’t stop talking about how awesome it was to be with this new group of men. There was no talk at all about the issues and challenges that arose, only excitement at beginning a new class. Sometimes it’s necessary to hurry up and wait in order to…