Prison Diary: A Magical Night

As any teacher will tell you, there are magical days in the classroom. The teacher, students and topic converge in some mystical chemistry where everyone is tuned in and riding the wave.

The strange thing is how these magical days are often the days when you're least prepared or least expect them. You're tired and under-prepared, planning on winging it to get through the class and then, unexpectedly, magic happens. On this of all days. Rarely does it seem that the magic happens on days when you're prepared and ready to go. I've never understood why this happens, this great mystery of teaching, how magic happens when you are least, rather than most, prepared. Maybe it's because when you're least prepared you're more human and vulnerable, or more open to following the lead of the students than expecting them to follow you.

This same thing happens out at the prison. And this Monday was one of those magical nights.

Herb had knee replacement surgery on Monday. So I was carrying the two hour class by myself, and will for the next few weeks while Herb recovers. Given that I had to carry the whole class I was actually pretty prepared. I even practiced my Spanish for critical texts I planned for us to read.

But at the start of the class Al asked me to catch them up on what was happening at Freedom. So I started sharing stories from Freedom, in a Lake Wobegon sort of way. And those stories lead us to talk about fear, grace, confession, forgiveness, and dark nights of the soul. And before I knew it, two hours had flown by. I never once looked at my notes. We never took out the song books. We just talked, passionately, for two hours straight.

I can't explain why it happened and why I can't make it happen every week.

Some nights the Spirit simply blows. And I've never been able to tell from where.

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