A faith-based program at the Fayette County Detention Center using pastoral experience, Correctional psychology, Wisdom traditions including AA, group dynamics and volunteers. The project coordinator has 17 years experience in correctional consulting and 40 years experience in pastoral counseling (overlapping :-)

Monday, February 21, 2005

On the Incredible Giftedness of Life--your life!

Lesson for the Fierce Landscape program, week of Feb. 21.

Once upon a time, a man loved a woman.
She loved him too. They made love.
Out of the joy of that moment, something wonderful happened, a miracle that we can scarcely even after five centuries of science hardly understand.

Your mother’s tiny egg, no bigger than the head of a needle, was met and pierced by your father’s tiny, tiny sperm. That tiny speck was one thousandth the size of your momma’s waiting yearning eager egg.

Your father brought in that tiny tiny speck of maleness, his total DNA, amounting to 3 billion digits. That met your mother’s DNA, also of a different 3 billion digits. Out of that joining was the very first spark of your life. At that moment the fertilized egg was throbbing with new energy of a DNA never before imagined in the cosmos. At that moment, every single characteristic of who you are today was contained: the size of your nose, the color of your eyes, the length of your body, every part that you now have was there in your genes, so tiny that only a microscope could find it.

Consider that moment did not have to happen. But it did, and you are here today. The miracle of your conception you can never grasp fully enough. You did not have to happen. But that spark did happen.

There followed the next miracle as that tiny egg now throbbing with life attached itself to the uterine wall of your mother’s body, after a little. But only after you had already multiplied many many times. The tiny egg that was you needed food and found a place to get it inside your mother. You grew and grew and grew and grew for nine whole months, and every step of that was also a miracle. It did not have to happen, but it did. You did.

After that long nesting, you--now weighing an incredible six pounds or so, were ready to emerge into the world. There was pain, great pain, blood and tearing, but suddenly, with a little help, there you were, a helpless rosy blood & fluid - covered infant, crying at the coldness of the real world. Another miracle. It did not have to happen.

Your lungs had to be cleared of fluid, you had to be inspected. But your tiny mouth was already eager for the nipple, and you began to drink the milk of your mother’s breast when you had no other awareness.

For many months, all you did was eat, sleep and poop, eat, sleep and poop, eat sleep poop. And someone was there every hour, if not every minute for days and months and several years to make sure you ate, and were kept clean of your poop.

The miracle that you were continued. You opened your eyes and looked and begin to see, and smell, and taste, and cry, and poop. See, smell, sleep, cry, poop.

You are today a walking miracle who did not deserve to be here. Your life is an incredible gift.

The greatest question in life is Why Are You Here at All. You did not have to be, and Yet, here you are. Why? Out of the great mother mystery matrix of millions and billions of years, here on this planet is each of you. Here I am, conscious of my unique life and I cannot even tell you why or how I am aware.

Every step or development of your life is a miracle.
Undeserved. What could any of you, any of us do to deserve the incredible gift of life that we have.

And look what we have survived, hook or crook, again, often undeservedly so. How many Guardian Angels have been protected this small child, this testing, climbing, reaching mischievous little boy that you were. This rebellious teen-ager. This boy child/man

We are daily, each morning we awaken, faced once more with the Giftedness of Life. How shall we spend it? What shall I do with my life today. 1000 waking minutes per day? 7000 waking minutes per week.

Now there is a hole in our heart longing for Something Else. Love, Ecstasy, Passion, Some Great fulfillment. We may have deepened, enlarged that hole by drugs, so we have created a huge craving for Something More.

Now here is the basic choice of human life. We shall always have Something Missing. We can and have often focused on that or we can choose to focus instead on the Miracle we are part of. Each of us choose. Daily, moment by moment. Will you cheat the Gift?

Do you choose to embrace the giftedness of life, the miracle that you are, the longing of love you are called into. Or will you choose to stay incomplete w. always a sense of Missing Something. One is Light, the other is Darkness. Resentment or Hope. Imagine! Choose!

Every minute of your life you choose to focus, either on What's Missing, or on the Miracle that calls you out of yourselves into Giftedness, celebration, love, joy, hope and newness.
–Meditation by Paschal Baute, 2/21/05

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Toughening the program: markers & an unexpected THANKS

Re: Apprentice Completion required for full admission to our program

I am warning our other volunteers to expect resistance to this new phase of our program development. Some inmates obviously did not like the idea. Several wanted to know Why Now? I might have said, had I been quick enough, because some former leaders in this program, really good men, are already back in jail with one or more felonies being charged. And we must always seek to make this program one that can not only help keep you out of jail, but summon and challenge you to examine how thorough and complete your life style change must be. The program must be developed.

Today, someone put a four page handwritten, unsigned, letter in Chaplain Howell's Admin box (I have not seen it) addressed to Chaplain Paschal Baute, Thanking him for the Fierce Landscape for the Spiritual Warrior program. Later I emailed the Chaplain there who had emailed me: "You must have had a great session Tuesday."

"Did not expect a warm response.
Put them on the spot. Demonstrated, (to some) that they were talking the talk and not walking it.
Only 1 out of 3 could tell me a scripture they had memorized for personal use. I said here you are complaning about time being heavy on your hands, admitting that your biggest personal problem was dealing wiht addictive thoughts, and you have not even extended yourself to learning a single scripture passage by heart. Hello!!!
Is that slacking off or not?
I said we are putting all sorts of tools in your hand, and you think that just by talking about these things, you are going to be able to go straight and be clean. I said most of you are probably just thinking about your highs next time without getting caught or breaking the law, in other words, simply being SLICKER. (One person said "That is what I have been doing")
What kind of commitment is that? I asked?
P.S. I can be good at confrontation, lots of practice holding business execs' feet to the fire (good trng also from wife, regularly, whose role in life, she admits, brags? is "Keeping me in my place!")
I expect some resistance to our placing these new markers and requiring one on one reviews and regarding their status as apprentices until they pass muster on that. Accountability is the name of the game for us, and we must be diligent and bold in demanding it. Too many prison programs are "Talk about God, read the Bible, pray, have good intentions, talk not walk." Anyone can do that for an hour or two a day and still be nothing changed when they leave.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

NEW APPRENTICE PROGRAM STEP: Brief RepOrt : Correctional Program, Lexington, Fayette County.

We now (finally) have volunteers leading a program every weekday and Saturday, and a full residential unit pod of ten inmates. We give reports on our meetings to one another via email, and since there are names involved, we prefer not to post these reports here. We will mark the main developments here. Copies of anything we do are available for using elsewhere.

One of our volunteers, a very experienced Program Director from another NPO is now heading up that program at OWL, planning coordination with all community agencies and transition programs to work and living, as well as coordination of new outreach programs from churches coming on board for prison ministries. See http://www.owlinc.net/

We have been studying Accountability in our Fierce Landscape program and decided that this needed to be strengthened. Today we started an Apprentice Program, required completion by all inmates. Some resistance.

The first month, would be Apprenticeship for the graduate or leadership program, successful completion necessary to qualify and remain for the second month.

A new 6 page guidebook was developed for completing the Apprentice Program, checklists, for review one on one with one of the volunteers, was given to each. They had questions. We said these were GUIDES but we expected them to use them not slack off.

As a demo of the tendency to slack off, I asked about half of them for their favorite scritpure quote and only 1 out of 3 could give one. I recalled that the main problem reported from most of them (hands 7 out of 10 today admitted) was pre-occupation with addictive thoughts and behavior.
Now what is the only two means beyond prayer and grace by which they can handle addictive thoughts when they have created a craving in their hearts for that life style? they did not know. 1. Staying busy, we discussed that. they agreed. I pointed out that the workbook provided many exercises nad inventories that they were not using.

What was #2? Falling in love. discovering a new Passion. Commitment of their heart, whole heart to a new way of being. They needed both. Thei workbook has a page teaching c. Addiction and another on Positive Addictions. More application and focus on what tools we were offering is an urgent remedy.
At the end each gave me a time when they expected to be ready for their apprentice review. Most gave me mid March.

To our volunteer Team:
We need this step for accountability. Otherwise we can have great talk, in the meetings, good meetings even on their own, but they can and will slack off on their own. Instead, at least, following up on the lead of Mercier, when they know they will have a one on one review and will be expected to review their progress according to several very specific checklists, they have a spur to do some real personal work, and not just drift or b-s their way.
Their essential work challenge is accountability. Unless we require it in this program, we can be being conned once more, and contributing to their shrewdness in being able to do so. Not Talk but Walk. ...
This was reviewed with Chaplain Howell and he agreed. The need for better accountability has emerged from my conversations with Mercier. Besides if others are going to use or adapt our program, they must be ready also to have markers to get accountability.



"Work as if everything
depended on you;
Pray as if everything
depended up God's
mercy and grace--
both are true!"

Completed by _____________________
on (date)____________

The Apprentice Warrior is expected to complete a study and review of the entire workbook within one month from entry and participate fully in all the activities of the program and all meetings. A review of this Apprentice Completion shall be scheduled with one of the Volunteers, after reviewing it with an inmate mentor, in order to qualify for help in our Advance program, becoming a team leader, transitioning with OWL and qualifying for your Certificate of Completion.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

SPIRITUAL WARFARE a new introduction to the handbook, 2/05

Spiritual warfare is a reality--there is not one person on the planet who does not do battle with inner demons. Awakening the warrior within, learning tools and techniques of inner combat, mastering the gifts of self, accessing higher powers, and adopting a mission-oriented path of life are the means of gaining inner victory and lasting spiritual peace.

The spiritual warrior within you needs to attack that which holds you back - that which self-sabotages your inner essence - overeating, drinking, drugs, addictions, laziness, unhealthy attachments, unlimited TV, or allowing others to abuse you as you blindly set yourself up to be a victim - anything that keeps your spiritual warrior-self imprisoned. Embrace the challenges the world brings to you. Accept that you are not the center of the universe. You will become less reactive. You will become more centered and more resourceful. You will feel better & more together.

We are each called to a warrior identity, but we can only find this deep within ourselves. That place which transforms us so we become what we all must become, if we are to transform our world to the one we want to live in; but most importantly to answer the inner summons.

This SPIRITUAL GROWTH PROGRAM is devoted to the development of the warrior soul, connecting the warrior both to Wisdom and the earth, and to the fellowship of spiritual warriors.


The effort to reach to one's truest inner self and find a balance in this world is essentially spiritual. The innermost core of ourselves and the hidden mystery of the universe are already intrinsically one within me. To be spiritual means manifesting and radiating that harmony and balance of body, mind and spirit and constantly challenging myself.

A warrior is a person who is not adverse to struggle, who has learnt that vigorous effort, welcoming challenge and competition are enjoyable and a part of our nature as human beings. To be a true spiritual warrior one must fight all kinds of distractions, personal weaknesses, fear and lethargy. Hence, the inner landscape is the main darkness to be faced and embraced. Inner peace is a result typically of intense struggle.

Living life with intense passion & purpose is leading the life of a "warrior". To be a "warrior" does not necessarily imply waging a "war". It is also an honorary title of many tribal societies for a human being endowed with courage, compassion and wisdom.

A spiritual warrior is one who pursues spirituality with vigor, determination and exquisite balance. You are now in a Correctional setting which provides a Fierce Landscape for your training. This setting is both rude, unforgiving and constantly challenging the would-be spiritual warrior. We are neither spiritual nor a warrior without taking the attitude that we are "in training" at all times everywhere. The "in-training" humbleness required is an essential trait of a true aspirant as well as the master and teacher.

We examine five traits of the Spiritual Warrior: Self-examination, Courage, Compassion, Generosity, and Mission or life-long commitment.
We take generosity or self-giving first as our greatest immediate challenge. Since most of us have a Christian background, we take our lessons and invitations from Scripture. (continued)