Inspirational thoughts, stories, quotes….

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This is a story from my teaching in the prison. The incident really touched my heart.

There was a man who came into the first Houses of Healing class with an earphone in his ear. I caught him on the way out and asked if it was a radio.  He said, “Yes,“ and I gently suggested he should leave the radio elsewhere during class.

I was a little perplexed when he wore the earphone the next week, and I weighed whether I should make an issue or just let it go.  At the end of the class I commented that I noticed he still had the radio, and I asked if he could hear me. He said, “Yes,“ and I decided to let it go.

He came to every class, and usually had his earphone, but I figured he'd at least have a chance of learning something if he showed up.

The issue faded away… it would be what it would be…

The last class came, and he spoke to the class - perhaps only the second or third time he contributed in the whole program.   He said:  "When I first came to this class I figured I had nothing to learn.  I wanted the certificate for parole.  But around the middle of the class, I took my headphones off and started to listen.  I realized I did have something to learn, and now I'm going to take every program I can get into."

As he walked out at the end of the day, he stopped to shake my hand, and he said:  "Keep saying those nice things to us.  It really makes a difference."

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes." ~Mahatma Gandhi

Orchid Children - There is a fascinating article in Atlantic Magazine this month (December 2009) on behavioral genetics exploring a new theory that the genes that cause vulnerabilities such as susceptibility to depression, addiction, and antisocial behavior may actually benefit us in the right circumstances. Here is a quote from the introductory paragraph of the article:

“Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. …. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail — but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people.”

I walked into the prison yesterday where I am working with a particularly challenging group of men. And I looked out at my room full of orchids, waiting to bloom.

The article is available on-line. Click here to read it.

"Hate the sin, love the sinner." ~Mahatma Gandhi

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep."
~ Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Here are a couple of my favorite NPR programs relating to crime and forgiveness. I hope you enjoy them.

We must be the change we wish to see in the world. - Mohandas Gandhi

A man is but the product of his thoughts,
what he thinks, he becomes.
- Mohandas Gandhi

And love will simply have no choice but to go into battle with space and time, and furthermore, to win. - James Baldwin

Each one of them is Jesus in disguise. - Mother Theresa

One day a new student named Brian came into my class. He had the text book already, which is unusual, because I usually supply the books. When I asked "What do you want to learn from taking this class," he told this story:

He was an addict, and had recently been paroled from prison. One day, he was walking down the street in his old neighborhood, and he saw one of his old buddies who he used to do drugs with sitting in a red pick-up truck. He was reading this book, Houses of Healing.

They talked and his friend told him he had been out of prison for about 18 months and his life was going great. He had a job doing construction, a new girlfriend. They just got a new apartment. And everyday he would sit in his pickup truck at lunch, eat his sandwich and read a few pages of Houses of Healing. It was one of the things he did every day to keep him in a positive frame of mind.

Not long after, Brian gave into his addiction, breaking parole, and was back in prison. He saw the Houses of Healing book and he thought "I want what my friend had." He was one of my most motivated students.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Meed

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