Monasticism in Lockdown America: Part 5, Holy Elders

Good Letters | 6/14/2018 | Staff
HelloimMe (Posted by) Level 3
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With their white beards and deep lines in their faces, the older men stand out in our jail Bible study’s circle of usually-young men with either tattoos on the outsides of their arms or track marks on the insides. I’m always struck by the old men’s humility, how they don’t tell the whippersnappers to shut up. They listen. There is a sorrow about them.

Take Merle. He’s only in his late fifties, but his questions speak to this sorrow. Someone had prayed for his left leg’s chronic pain in our group Bible study, and not only did the pain go away and stay away, but the healing grew deeper into his heart. Two weeks later he glowed in his red scrubs, trying to describe to us in the circle how he’d begun praying in his cell, how he felt different.

Yep - Cellie - Chair - Look - Skin

“Yep,” his cellie testified in the chair next to him. “Look, even his skin color changed.” Merle nodded his shaggy hair in agreement, lifting his arms for us to see. His cellie continued: “And he’s…I dunno…softer? Less of an ****.”

But a few weeks later, in a one-on-one visit at night, Merle told me through the glass that his court case was over, and he’d be shipped out that week. “I don’t know what I’ll do in prison. I’ll be in my late seventies when I get out. I could die an old man in there.”

Number - Guys - Year - Monks - Monasteries

I was quiet with him. I waited as long as I could to tell him what I’ve been telling a number of guys this year: I told him about monks and monasteries.

That is, how some men choose to live out their days in all-male places wearing the same clothing, eating plain food, growing out their beards, leaving the “normal” world behind, and spending much of their time in...
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