Last week, I presented a program for a group of people recovering from LIFE. I drove to Wilmington, Delaware and had a lot of time to think about what I was going to say to people recovering from drug, gambling and alcohol issues. And several who were experiencing life-threatening illnesses and the ravage of divorce.
I wondered if they would respond to a woman bringing stuffed animals and blankets and using them as “conversation starters” to talk about serious life issues.
Since I was invited to facilitate a “spiritual program” I used the donated afghans, crocheted blankets, holiday throw blankets and soft baby quilts as a metaphor for God as our “Comforter and Protector.” It was being held in a public facility but the program was supposed to bring up Biblical principles as a way to work through challenges.
Each person selected a stuffed animal and related it to a Bible story or something spiritual. A woman selected a big pink pig and said that it reminded her of being in the “muck and mire” of a loved one’s addiction. A man selected a lamb and spoke of the lost lamb and how the Good Shepherd will care for each person, or His sheep, caught in the web of addiction. Mary Lynn chose a snake and said, “This reminds me of how I am tempted by Satan to go back to my addiction.”
After the presentation, I received a message from Michael, a man who had served time in prison. He told me that he had taken the blanket home, washed it and put it in his office along with the little lamb with the wind-up key that played the soothing song LULLABYE AND GOODNIGHT.
You know, I think you should take this program to the men and women in prison. You made many good points in the program you offered to us. In prison, they just have those rough institutional blankets. There is something about the colors and the softness of the ones that you brought that will soften their hearts and release some emotions that have been buried, probably since childhood.
And the stuffed animals, too?
Yes, just the way you did it here. It is something different for the inmates to experience. You have something good to offer. The prison programs are pretty ho-hum…they get complacent there and don’t come up with novel and creative ways to reach the men and women who are struggling in there. I have a friend in Ohio that I want to put you in touch with. Maybe you can take STORIES FOR SENIORS and adapt it for a new group.
People have the wrong idea about people in prison. I admit, I did wrong by not stopping for the police chasing after me. I was “high” and that was a crime and I know that choice was very dangerous. At the time, I was involved in a lot of very bad things. I am not going to lie. I was a guy who was rough around the edges and people feared me. I learned my lesson and served the time that I deserved. Now, I spend my time mentoring others so they do not have to go down the sorry path that my life took me. I am in my late 40’s now but I feel I have learned more in my life so far than many do in their whole lifetime. I have just enrolled in a Criminal Justice program at the University and I plan to use everything that I have learned to help others.
I love music so I usually bring lyrics, songs and video clips that match the interests of the group that I am visiting. For this group, this music was right on target. After we played the songs, everyone shared about their personal healings from the rough passages in their life.