Love and Peace
It may be that I am of a certain age, or, perhaps, a certain personality type, but today's gospel draws me to it like a moth to a flame. Love and peace - certainly what I yearn for more than anything else. I find it hard to be among people for long periods of time. I need to retreat to the peace of my home for rest and recovery from the world around me. It's not that I don't value and enjoy friendships - I do - but somehow I never feel like the real me unless I am at home, secure and alone or among my most loved ones.
Which perhaps makes it surprising that my job thrusts me among the noise and clamour of prison life - 370 (and rapidly rising) women, all in a highly emotional state, all with numerous needs and complicated and chaotic backgrounds, and a staff under great strain dealing with the outcome of that mix. What we try to do, as chaplains, is to arm ourselves with that love and peace and take it with us wherever we go. Speaking softly, smiling, listening, praying. Within a few moments conversation you can feel tensions lessening, panic receding, hope returning at least for a short period of time. The quiet of the chapel feeds and sustains those who use it through services or private candle lightings, remembering loved ones with a chaplain.
I love my job, but I thank God every day that I do not have to live there.