This is my Lent in Prison. It’s not as eventful as the period of Lent during 2013. Lent 2013 was spent preparing for federal prison. This year I have arrived, and this is my 12th month of serving time. My crime: Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. I am serving 46 months at the Federal Prison Camp in Atlanta, Georgia.
Last year I worked with my church, Lincoln Park United Methodist in Knoxville, Tenn., and friends to get myself prepared to report. I discovered how important the church and Lent is to Christians. It is amazing how you don’t appreciate something until you actually live it. I use to hear people talking around Knoxville asking each other, “What are you giving up for Lent?” I did not pay much attention to them because I had what I thought were things too important on my mind. But last year I began to realize the real meaning of the 40 days leading up to the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
So this year I had a major decision to make for the first time. What was I going to give up for Lent 2014? One thing anybody can give up is prison food. The food we get is not to be treasured. It is to be eaten only so that we won’t starve. You won’t have anybody say, “I think I will go over to the Federal Prison Camp and see if I can get a good meal.” You could not get beggars to come and eat here! They are too smart for that.
There are not a lot of activities to occupy one’s time here. During holidays there are card tournaments, Bingo and some sporting events. Nothing that I care about or wish to engage in. Definitely nothing that I would considered so important that I would want it to serve as a worthy sacrifice during this holy time of the year. So there is nothing to give up from the prison activities available to us.
So, what would I give up? I thought of three options. I could give up my rock ‘n roll music, solitaire, or I could give up both. I consulted with a “special” friend and chose the 1950s through 1980s rock ‘n roll that I have loaded on my Scandisk, the prison’s poor excuse for an Ipod. That is 275 rock ‘n roll tunes and five songs of faith. So the rock ‘n roll goes and the songs of faith will stay.
So during Lent I am “fasting” from the 275 songs that include The Temptations, Four Tops, Gary Lewis and the Playbooks, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones and many, many more. This is my number-one thing to do here in prison. I spend five hours a more, each day listening to the greatest songs in rock ‘n roll. So it’s only fitting that it would be my sacrifice during this Lent.
I want everyone to pray and have a safe Easter. What are you giving up for Lent?
Bernard Addison can receive your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or you may mail comments to:
FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D
PO Box 150160
Atlanta, GA 30315