Ramon noodles, crushed chips, squeeze cheese, summer sausage, flour tortillas, and a six pack of crackers to make it go further, will be the typical Alabama prisoners get together Thanksgiving meal. These wraps are prepared by themselves for themselves in celebration of the day. While a side of processed Turkey can be expected on their lunch trays, it isn’t the same as gathering around the microwaves and preparing a meal together. In fact, it is not unusual on the holidays to see a waiting list posted by the microwaves for use during this special occasion.
Recalling the hours that we had to wait for our turn to arrive, I am taken back not to the long lines, but afterwards to the moment that we finally sat down together to share with one another the things we had to be grateful for. With a specific Thanksgiving in mind, I sat next to three women who one by one took turns expressing their appreciation for the simplest things found in life. At that moment, it was not where I was or who I was with that left a lasting impression; it was the condition of our hearts. Our attitudes, while not always, were humbled to the point of true gratitude for the blessing of life itself.
When my turn approached, I could hardly contain myself. Through teary eyes, I too thanked God for the gift of forgiveness and the opportunity to start over again. As I looked around, I realized everything I had taken for granted. Even though I was deservingly in the midst of chains, the Lord did not forsake me. He took this day to reach out and teach me, one of His most unruly children, a lifelong lesson of unconditional love and redemption.
May the Lord allow me to never forget His majesty on this day or any other.
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.