the high place of Hilltop

'All serve convictions for non-violent crimes; all have suffered violent crimes done unto them: 77% have traumatic brain injuries; all were raped an average of 6 times; 90% were orphaned or abandoned by their moms; 90% have PTSD. They have 13 arrests (on average) in a 2 yr period; 100% are chemically dependent; 73% were juvenile runaways, the average age is 34, grade level-10th.)'

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This terrifies, disgusts, angers, challenges me and yet, as has christmas 2007happened before, I expect the emotions to fade and to carry on as before. 

Christmas eve morning, the house is quiet, my 11 o clock meeting cancelled, I’ve been up breathing through my mouth and blowing snot and blood into a wet washcloth.

I’ve been reading this morning- Jim Bakker on his time in the federal prison system. 

I’ve been praying this morning- pretty much all I know how to do when faced with injustice this massive.  Or maybe the injustice is really that my life doesn’t resemble these.  Pretty much everyone I’m close to, everyone I know in general, has tried to convince me of my worth, that I’m capable, desirable, worth being with; and I’ve still come through quite a battle of wills in believing it.

These girls have not had that.  I’ve been protected, safe guarded during my mostchristmas tree lights

vulnerable moments, but these ladies have not.  Their moments are taken advantage of, exploited.  How could I convince them of their worth, that their bodies are worth millions in chemicals alone and that they are high tech well designed, magnificent beings with real purpose that could be realized and potential that could be maximized on. 



Bakker talks about a smoking cessation group that encourages

inmates to realize their value, identity; to refrain from phrases like quit smoking that reinforce an identity as a smoker, but to concentrate on phrases like, I really enjoy tasting food.

Mohammed Yunus talks about convincing the poorest of the poor of their worth, their trustworthiness.

Whatever the venue, it seems the task is very similar- appreciate, add value to, people – all people- and when we do that we glorify God.


American card, circa 1920

Image via Wikipedia

That can be hard though, awkward.  We seem to need to earn the right to speak the truth into someone’s life by going through something similar.  I haven’t earned the right to speak, but its been given to me as a responsibility.

I fail- yesterday I brought a bunch of blank Christmas cards to work with the intention of appreciating- adding value to people.  I used a few of them, but missed a few really good opportunities, including one to acknowledge the quiet guard that I usually mutter a bye to.  Nope- I walked right past- he was looking down, I just kept walking, no big Merry Christmas, no thank you for being here every day and for helping me out when I left my lights on 4 years ago and for calling the pd when I locked my keys in a running vehicle last year and-.

Nope, walked right on by like no one was there.

& Margaret, our cleaning lady.  The same quick thanks that I always give her when she comes by my desk to empty out my personal trash can, which has been inundated with tissues this week.  A quick thanks and good morning.  I know nothing about her.

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I have one more week in the Hudson Allstate office to add value to the people there.  After that, I don’t know- I’ll have to find other people to add value to.  Perhaps they’ll be a part of a court rehab group.  Maybe I’ll be able to write:

Then a young woman walked in wearing a prison uniform and shekels.  The judge greeted her with a look that melted my heart.  It reminded me of the look the father must have given his prodigal son when he returned.  He told her how marvelous she looked now three months sober.  He remembered he had been afraid for her life the night she went into custody because she was so skinny and pale.

The judge spoke to her with grace and respect.  Although she stood there in shekels, he treated her in a way that retained her dignity.  I’m guessing that most of the women had not been treated with much respect in their lives.