Sometimes facilitating a group with these guys is like pulling teeth.
I will flex my creative muscle and come up with a thoughtful activity, only to be shut down after introducing it with blank stares and -100% interest…
I never let that dim my energy though. I just keep on talking about it and encouraging them to participate. Sometimes that’s all it takes, and before you know it the inmates are laughing and having a good time. Or if it’s a more serious activity, they might all end up sharing deeper parts of themselves and helping each other out.
Last week I had a group that didn’t have anymore teeth to pull. They all just sat there and all their answers to my questions were either, “I don’t know,” or “I’ll pass.”
It’s during those types of groups you are so thankful for the one or two guys that actually say something or express even a little bit of interest.
“Write a Spoken Word piece as if you were talking to your 13 year old self.” ….I said as I handed out papers and pens. Only two out of about 8 of them accepted it.
At least in prison I get a lot of practice with rejection, which is a life skill that’s always useful to have…
The two that did participate misunderstood the prompt a little bit, but that’s alright. It was still a good thought provoking activity for them. They wrote a piece as if they were 13 again, instead of to their 13 year old self.
I would like to share one of the pieces they wrote, he called it “Just Keep on Dreaming!”
I am who the world says I am
but no one knows what lies deep inside of the person I want to be!
I trudge through the struggles of poverty
Not knowing the why’s and how’s of my life position.
Living from one day to the next, looking to momma to help me
withstanding those things called vex.
As I continue to fight off those dreams, I just keep on dreaming.
I can see a brighter day with joy’s and elation for I have traveled those roads of hard-knots and survived to tell my story to those that need
A helping hand to pull them up and outside of their struggles and despairs
Let them know they too can rid themselves of their demons and
Life gets better when you look to God, and just keep on dreaming!
He wrote that in less than 15 minutes. I could tell it was a poem that was already inside of him, and I’m glad he got it out.
A lot of these guys I’m sure can relate to his poem. How unfortunate circumstances like poverty cannot always be understood when they didn’t choose that life. How it’s easy to be looked at by the world and be seen a certain way, when deep down they actually want to be better people. How it’s easy to forget the hopes and dreams they once had, but it’s better to look to God and just keep on dreaming.
He’s a nice guy, and signed his poem as “The Fallen Soldier,”
Just his one poem made the teeth pulling group worth it.