I spent quite a bit of time this week finishing up the requirements for prison work. It didn't all go well, but I won't belabor the details. I'll just say that after driving the 100-miles round trip to the state prison three times since Saturday's orientation, I'm not finished, thanks to an equipment malfunction. But all that's left is my photo. As of Thursday, the chaplain was still waiting for the results of my drug test to be forwarded to them and the fingerprint clearance from the FBI.
Today I attended a potluck hosted by the Al-Anon prison coordinator, and got to meet many of the other Al-Anon volunteers. I knew several of them from meetings I attend. It was the first time I got a really good idea about what going out to the prison was going to be like. Some of the volunteers had been going into the prison for years, and everyone there said they got a lot out of it. So now that I've gotten through all the red tape, I'm looking forward to being of service.
But it won't be for a while. I probably won't know what unit I'm assigned to until the end of February. I first expressed interest in the program before Thanksgiving. One lesson I'm learning is that the wheels of justice move very, very slowly.
But listening to the discussion today, I did learn some things I didn't know. For example, the prisoners have to earn their seat at an Al-Anon meeting. It's considered a privilege. And they have to attend six meetings before they get a donated book of daily meditations. Some women try to scam additional copies. To me that said these books mean something to them.
I couldn't help but think of how for me Al-Anon is given freely. I may have had to "earn my seat" in one sense. But all I need to do is to show up to get the help I need. The next time the thought crosses my mind that I'm too tired to get to a meeting or too busy to do my morning reading, I'm going to remind myself of the women who would love to be in my place.