We're Back

Due to COVID, for a year I've been cut off from the place that had provided me with my deepest experience of church, the Men in White at the French Robertson unit. 

If you've read this blog or my books, true even of Hunting Magic Eels, you know how important the prison has been to my spiritual walk. But in March 2020 chaplain volunteers were told that we were no longer permitted to visit the unit. 

And a year passed. 

Everyone can tell a story of loss during COVID. And not all griefs are comparable, given how many lives we've lost. But one of my greatest losses during this season has been the loss of the prison and our Monday night Bible study. It's been a long, hard year being separated.

But the world is starting to open back up, and TDCJ is now allowing chaplain volunteers back onto the units. Programing isn't back up yet at our unit, so our study hasn't restarted. But we are now allowed to visit and participate in the church services on Sunday morning. So yesterday I went out to the unit for the first time in over a year, preaching in two of the church services. 

Just driving out to the unit was emotional, not having made that drive for so many months. Then arriving and entering the unit. And at last, finally, after so long a separation, getting to see and talk with so many of the Men in White from Monday nights. Such a sweet reunion. They've suffered a lot, as we all have, but they are resilient. As they shouted in church, "God is good."

My first service was in Building 19 gym. We sang. We prayed. A brother shared a message. Then it was my turn. I went to the front. The men prayed over me. How I missed that. Needed that. Then I lifted my head and said, "We're back."

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