Sure, I can tell anyone my favorite smell or a movie star I wouldn’t mind portraying me in the biography of my life. Orange blossoms and Natalie Portman. See? I don’t even know who you are and I’m fine telling you that.
Ask me what it means to forgive someone, ask me about someone I haven’t forgiven, ask me about someone I need to ask forgiveness from? And the normally Chatty Cathy in me gets a little less chatty.
Usually, that is.
Unless, for some reason, it’s an Inside-Out program and the people surrounding me are participants of a Creative Writing Workshop at Oregon State Penitentiary.
Then it’s a different case entirely.
Then we’re beginning a day-long conversation and we don’t have time to waste on surface-level stuff. We’re diving in without a moment to lose.
We were blessed to have Sister Helen Prejean with us for the morning. She shared her own experiences with writing, forgiveness and of course, Cajun jokes.
The energy of the room swelled with her presence and the ease of her conversation and the cadence of her speech warmed our hearts like a good dish of jambalaya.
We sat, inspired and touched, listening to her speak, and then we got to our own writings.
The sharing that followed was a church service in the holiest of temples. Who knew? At a prison. People read their pain out loud. Read their doubt. Read their brokenness, their struggles, their anger.
And in that room on the top floor of the maximum security prison in Oregon, there was peace.
Laughter. Joy. Sharing. And who can say? But I wouldn’t doubt that there was quite a bit of hurt that started healing too.
Inside-Out gets me every time. Takes my Chatty Cathy nature and turns it, well, inside out. I’m not just moving my mouth to fill the quiet, but I’m listening attentively and speaking openly with my fellow students.
Ask me about forgiveness? And I’ll tell you to take an Inside-Out class.