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Showing posts from July, 2011

(Day 49) What a Sunday drive!!!!!! Truly a Sabbath experience!!!

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After a very restful sleep last night, waking to the sound of the forest coming alive around me (ok, so I had to put my hearing aid in first), I made my way to the dining room in the main lodge where I made a cup of coffee.

While sipping my coffee I answered a few emails and then planned a loop that would allow me to see as much as possible of the Mt. Hood area before 4PM when things would start here at the centre.  It was hard to choose.  There were so many recommended roads on the Oregon Motorcyclist website.  Eventually I sketched out a route that would take me around Mt. Hood and along the Columbia gorge - avoiding major highways as much as possible.

But it was hard to leave the serenity of this space.  Walking around the grounds in the gathering morning light was so calming.  Light filtering through trees, softly bring a new day to fruition.  Birds rising from their slumber, squirrels already about their business... hmmm... as nice as it is, I know there is much more that I will …

(Day 48) On a change in location and attitude...

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This morning (Saturday July 30th) was spent washing clothes and getting ready to depart Shalom Prayer Centre.  With a pending change in location comes a change in attitude...

On Friday evening I had sent out a number of requests to the Couch Surfing network with possible requests to "surf" with folk along the intended route through the high desert and, along the Interstate.  It was my intention to use this information to decide which route I would take as one of my concerns was tenting in the desert... I wasn't looking forward to the heat setting up camp or the critters that roam the desert at night...

Well, the replies started coming in on Saturday morning and before I knew it I had places to stay at my proposed first three stops through the high country... I guess I now know which way I am going: Boise, OR to Loa, UT to Cortez, CO to Limon, CO and then on through Kansas and Missouri... and... it looks like my friend Al Wallace is going to be able to join me after all f…

(Day 47) A day of reflection and discernment...

Tuesday August 2nd will mark the end of my 4th week on the road.  Today marks the end of my first week here in Oregon - a week that has been full of activity, conversations and reflection.  The visits to the various prisons in the area have been most helpful.  Connecting with other Chaplains and Administrators has reinforced the value of some of the things I do, opened my mind to new ideas and possibilities for ministry, exposed me to new resources and polices, practices and procedures, and forced me to think at deeper levels on the theological rationale for prison ministry.

It's all about relationships. It's all about the human being finding/creating/naming its worth. It's all about relationships. The Divine is the relationships.
Today I had my first ever session with a Spiritual Director.  Peggy was her name.  In addition to degrees in theology she also holds a PhD in psychology.  She invited me to speak about how I arrived here and then she asked me, after explaining a littl…

(Day 46) On volunteers, statistics and HGO...

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Another early morning.  Breakfast and then off to a series of meetings in Salem at the "Dome" where the headquarters of Oregon Department of Corrections is located.  My first meeting was with Les.  Les is a member of the Religious Services Administrative Team and is responsible for all things volunteer.  He tracks volunteer data, trains volunteers and is responsible for communicating with volunteers.  It is a huge job as there are over 3000 volunteers with the DOC statewide.

Recruitment is done at the local level by Chaplains and all volunteers must be affiliated with a faith community or community organization.  This is their "first level of screening" and if a volunteer ceases to be affiliated, their role as a volunteer with DOC is terminated.  Volunteers may enter the institution to whuch they are assigned for up to three months under escort.  These are called un-carded volunteers.  During this time they are expected to take the volunteer training modules and co…

(Day 45) CRCI, SFFC and the Pacific Coast...

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It's been a long day... in order to beat the traffic through Portland I left the Shalom Centre at 6AM arriving at Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) at 7:30AM as advised by Chaplain Larry Bowen.

I was greeted at the front gate by a staff member in a control pod who let me into the sally port.  From there I was allowed to enter the yard proper where I exchanged my drivers licence for an ID Tag.  An officer processed me through the metal detector and by this time Larry had arrived.

The tour of CRCI did not take long.  The facility is basically one long hallway (nicely flooded by sunlight) off of which program offices, classrooms and shops and other administrative spaces come on the main floor.  And on the second floor 800 men are housed dormitory style on bunk beds.  Each inmate has a foot locker and may purchase a TV from the canteen.  The TV (6" LCD) is mounted on the end of their bed on a pole and they may watch it by sitting on their bed or lying backwards on t…

(Day 44) On being overwhelmed by a mass of humanity... and the goodness at its core...

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This morning I arrived at Oregon State Penitentiary at just after 9AM.  Arriving at the main gate I had to announce my arrival on the grounds before I parked.

Entering the main reception area I showed my identification tag and signed in.  Yes, I had to walk through a metal detector, even take off my shoes... but there was no ION ccan machine, no drug detector dog and, I was informed that staff did not have to walk through the metal detector.  First thing of note that is different here... and they have 2,300 inmates in this facility!

I shared with the guard on duty the process that happens at our principal entrance in the morning and about the drug dog and ION scan machine and how they are used with visitors.  It was clear to me that she was on the one hand impressed with the tools we were using - but didn't think staff should be subject to them... interesting.

Chaplain Phil Holbrook took a few minutes to come and fetch me and I was soon to find out why... its called five flights …

(Day 43) Oregon DOC Religious Services Administration...

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This morning I visited the Dome, home to the Department of Correction for the State of Oregon.  I was wondering where to park my bike and I saw only one other bike in the area: parked in an area marked off with orange cones.  I headed over there and along the way asked a guy if it was okay to park there.  He informed me "that green bike is there everyday so shouldn't be any issue... but don't quote me!"  As I was taking off my gear the owner of the green bike came along and we had a great chat.  Ron Leader (I think I have that right) is with the Investigations Branch, and when I told him where I was from and what I was doing we launched into a deep discussion about the terribly wrong direction Canada was heading.  It was refreshing to hear someone from the Operational side of the house acknowledge that locking people up doesn't solve much!

The plan for today was to meet with three members of the Oregon Department of Corrections Religious Services Administration Te…

(Day 42) continued...

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Sunday.  It was and remains a day of rest.  For the first time in a long time I have sat and read a book cover to cover in one day.

Granted, it was not a large or studious book but it was a powerful book and it drew me in and engaged me in a way that I have not been engaged by a theological book since I read Barbara Brown Taylor's, An Altar in the World.

The book?  One I started reading while I was at Hank Dixon's place, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle.

The book is full of stories of Fr. Boyle meeting the "homies" where they are at and through the stories of his encounters of the spirit at work in the lives of those who choose to change, "the priest begins to articulate a simple theology that speaks deeply to me as I seek to understand more fully my vocation to prison ministry - and life in general...



"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a covenant between equals. … Compassion…