June 2, 2006
Yesterday was my birthday. It was also a
day that I moved to a different cellblock. Although, in a way, one could say
that the move was merely coincidental, I say it as a gift from God. I needed
a change of environment, and I had been praying for it. And after several months
of quiet waiting, yesterday afternoon and officer informed me that I was being ordered to go to the D-North housing unit. At the time I had been living in D-South.
D-North and D-South are both a part of the prison’s “general population”. But because I have returned to working as a “mobility guide” for the sight-impaired
men, by relocating to D-North I can now be with these physically handicapped men all the time.
In addition, I could continue to work during the afternoons as a “Program Assistant” at the facility’s
Intermediate Care Program (E-North).
As of this moment, however, most of my belongings are still in boxes and bags. I have a lot more cleaning to do before I finish unpacking.
And having to pack, move, and then unpack is exhausting.
Nevertheless, I rejoice because my prayers were answered, and on my birthday, no less!
In addition, a second prayer was also answered. For when I got the notice
that I was going to a new location, I asked the Lord for the miracle of “paint”.
But this is another story which I plan to write about tomorrow.
June 3, 2006
One of the hardest things in prison is to find paint.
Oftentimes it’s in short supply. When something needs painting a
“work order” form has to be filled out by an employee, usually a guard or a sergeant. The form then goes to the office of the prison’s maintenance department where it gets reviewed and
processed. After this, however, it becomes a matter of waiting.
First, you have to wait for someone in the maintenance department to see of there’s
any paint in stock. Second, you have to wait for the facility’s sole painter,
a husky Hispanic man in his early 30s, to go through his stack of work orders until he gets to yours.
Whenever I have to move into a different cell I like to clean it and, if possible, paint. But because paint is scarce, as I began to gather my belongings in preparation to
move to my new location, I said a short prayer that I’d be able to get hold of some paint.
Then, lo and behold, as I pushed a moving car which contained my property through the
entryway of the building I was relocating to, it so happened that the painter was
there. Usually he’s very difficult to find.
And without neglecting the opportunity, I politely asked him what the chance was for my new cell to get a fresh coat
of paint. He, in turn, told me to go and ask the correction officer who was in
charge. I did. And the officer shrugged
his shoulders. He then quickly turned to the inmate painter and said, “If
you have enough paint, then take care of Berkowitz’ cell.” He did.
I then helped the painter lay down his protective tarp and waited until he was done. To be able to move into a freshly painted cell is a miracle!
June 4, 2006
The sight-impaired and legally blind Native American prisoner who I had been assigned
to help and guide was transferred to another prison. He left more than week ago and now I’ve been assigned to someone else.
I miss my Indian friend. I wrote about him
in my journal for May 5th in a piece titled “Bitterness.” He’s
been incarcerated for many years. And he is a Vietnam veteran, too. My friend
also suffers from Agent Orange poisoning because of his exposure to this chemical defoliant during his military tour in Vietnam. As a result of the exposure he developed a serious skin problem, and I often had to
take him to the prison’s Infirmary for treatments.
His bitterness, however, drove him to continuous complaining. When he was here he battled the facility’s administration by filing all kinds of grievances, and
he would often threaten to sue the Superintendent. I believe he already has a
big lawsuit that he filed against the officials in the last facility he was in. This
time, though the staff had had enough. So he was transferred.
In a way I’m feeling relieved that he’s gone because it is stressful enough
doing time in maximum security lockup, let alone having to spend several hours per day with a chronically grumpy person.
June 11, 2006
I’ve been up since 5:30 this morning. In
a short while I’ll be going to the utility sink to finish washing my white “church” shirt. Right now it’s soaking in a bucket of Tide detergent. Then
after I’m done with this I will take a shower and get ready for bed.
Sunday is usually the busiest day of the week for me.
I got up early to say my prayers. I then went to the chapel for much of
the morning, and I returned to the chapel for a second service that’s held in the afternoon. This is always followed by an evening fellowship.
But aside from all this, I received another “confirmation” that I moved into
a different cell at the right time. For I ran into the man who went into my former
room. He was in the chapel this morning when he told me that a few days after
he got there the hot water pipe broke causing his cell to receive water damage. He
said that there were books and letters on his floor when the water came in, and it took him “more than an hour”
to mop up.
I kindly told the guy how sorry I was to hear this.
I had been in that cell for approximately eighteen months and never had a problem with the plumbing.
Wow! This may be another example of God’s
divine providence. Like I wrote in my journal entry for June 2nd,
the Lord allowed me to move right on my birthday. Furthermore, I was able to
get my cell painted immediately before I moved in. Amen!
June 13, 2006
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Wait on the Lord… wait,
I say, on the Lord.
There is a concept in the Scriptures that’s called the “fullness of time”.
According to the Old Testament
book of Ecclesiastes, God has a time for every period in our lives. These periods
and season span from birth to death. “There is a time to be born, and a
time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2).
In my life, therefore, come these seasons. And
they consist of seasons for making preparations, for waiting, for moving forward and, finally, for entering into all that
I have been waiting and preparing for. But the keys to all this are trust and
The Lord, I believe, is never in a hurry. God
is never late nor early. He’s always on time. Yet my problem is with
waiting. When the Lord seems to be taking to long to do something, I tend to
become impatient. I then end up moving ahead and I get out of God’s will. Ultimately this results in my making wrong decisions that eventually cause me grief.
Even after all these years of being a Christian,
I still have to learn to wait upon the Lord. Recently, for instance, I
made a serious mistake. I am not going to say what it was, but I am trouble by
what I did. I allowed a well-meaning friend to talk me into something that I
now regret. It’s not a matter that’s going to cause me tremendous
harm, but I did need to seek more godly counsel, and I neglected to do this.
I realize that I need to be more discerning and sensitive to the leading of the Holy
Spirit. I need the patience to wait.
Frankly I believe that I have a long way to go before I am the mature Christian God wants
me to be. And while I may be excelling in some areas in my spiritual life, in
other areas I could be doing much better. But God is a patient teacher.