Email to my Dad on the UN / Prison Stories
Voices of Angels - I always blink back tears when I tell this one in real life - but it was happy moment for us.
We had no radios and no tv's in prison. We had no music, except the brothers croaking out kingdom songs (we had to learn the switchover from the old to the new songbook without music).
Music is one of those simple things you listen to everyday of your life (at least I did and do). I spoke in one of my responses about the "simple things". Music is one of those to me.
About a month into my sentence I was feeling really miserable - the reality of my decision had hit me squarely between the eyes. A few of us had gathered to have the bookstudy. We were about half way through when we stated to hear music. Those of us, likely to doze off in meetings, were wide awake. We answered as fast as we could, thanked Jehovah for allowing us the privilege to suffer for his name and went to find the glorious noise.
Along one of the metal walls was a gate. The gate had a hole cut out and filled with razor wire so that it could be opened by the guards. About 70 of us gathered around the gate like animals. The music was loud. I looked out and saw it was coming from the car of one of the guards......he was washing it and had the stero turned on...."Casey's coast to coast; America's top 40" sang the jingle line.
We listened to Casey read the dedication and the music started. We were transfixed. We listened to "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Making Love out of Nothing at All" and "Sweet Dreams". For days after that I could close my eyes and hear every word.
We recognized the guard whose car it was. He never understood why we begged him to let us wash his car every week after that. He would bring it in and it shone like new every time. The only thing that shone brighter was the smiles on our faces and the music in our hearts.
I had tears of joy in my eyes 11 years later when I went to see the Shawshank Redemption - my all time favorite movie (yes it was rated R and I saw it 6 times). The scene when Andy is left alone for a moment and he locks himself in one of the offices and broadcasts an opera to the whole prison over the PA system, while Red says:
"I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singin' about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I like to think they were singin' about something so beautiful it can't be expressed in words and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared. Higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away. And for the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free"
you have confirmed my belief that truly special people exist in this world.
"Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty."
You are setting yourself free...you always have been.
"Love never dies." Voivodul Vlad Draculea (from Bram Stoker's Dracula-1992)
I certainly respect your right to privacy. I was just curious.
One of my uncles went to prison here in the US for about 3 years during the Vietnam war. My mother had a friend whose son was the same age as my brother who did some kind of medical service and so didn't go to prison. I remember as a child thinking that was so odd that one person had to go to prison and the other person just did some work. I didn't give it much thought since I was a child and never really asked my parents about it.
My uncle would never talk much about his time in prison. He was a small man as most of my mother's side of the family is small in build and stature. He spend about 1/2 of his time in a maximum security prison with murderers and rapists and then they finally moved him and the others to a minimum security prison where life wasn't as bad. I can only wonder what things happened to him there.
I do know he was a much quieter man when he came out of prison. He married a woman that didn't love him and who made his life miserable and left him a few years ago deep in debt. I told my mother to try to talk him into declaring bankruptcy but he wouldn't do it due to his witness beliefs. I admire him for his convictions and he is certainly one of the ones I speak of when I say I certainly know people who deserve eternal life in paradise for the life they have been willing to lead. He certainly has had no joy in this life.
I wish you peace.
MSIL my friend, what you did indicates that you are a man of great strength of character. I wish I had that much. You should take great pride in a type of character that is so rare in today's world; it is certainly vastly more than that which has ever been displayed by the WTBTS.
And, btw, Kent is right. Speaking of these things does indeed have a cathartic effect. Perhaps you should write about your experiences from beginning to end. Or sit down with a friend for a session, or several sessions of catharsis...getting it off your chest and out of your system.
My hearts go to you as well. Many kind posts have been send to you as replay. I do agree with those and hope you will find some kind of peace. Life is still worth living and full of lights. Go for it.
I've just clicked on to this thread - and was astounded. Not so much by your experience, but your ability to chat about it. Not just talk, as in telling us what happened.....but chatting, putting us there with you for a moment or two.
I saw Shawshank Redemption about the same number of times. I had a hard time convincing others to watch it as it was so graphic in the first part.......but the ability of human nature (in some humans) to maintain, survive, and then to overcome - is a joy. Loved the movie.
Did you ever see "Murder in the First" with Kevin Bacon and Christian Slater? Based on the trial that closed Alcatraz. Very graphic - but with the same thought. The man wasn't that terribly strong, but he was a person - and finally felt he had the right to be treated as one.
I'm sorry about your dog. Somehow those dumb animals can tear at our hearts harder than our own experiences - guess they envelop our hope and love.
About some of the brothers you encountered......there are bullies and control freaks everywhere - and their followers. But when they achieve a position of power, their tactics seem to get even stronger. Those stupid men are probably still behaving somewhat the same today. What a shame for their families and pets.
Take care, msil, and I'm truly sorry that you had to experience this for no just reason. I'm glad you can put it into some kind of perspective - that's no small accomplishment.