Martha’s Reflection for Holy Week, March 27

Holy Week Approaching March 27th, 2021

The daily penance here is fitting for the season of Lent. Jesus must die for the nation and to bring the dispersed children of God together. The innocent lamb is slaughtered, like the hopes of so many of the women being brought into the prison system.

The Bureau of Prisons has 3.2 million prisoners and an annual budget of $84 billion.

Inmates here are finally being released. Some leave after receiving their second vaccines. For others, their time is up. And there are other reasons. Those who are passed over experience agitation and resentment. The conditions of release and the process to get there vary and are nearly impossible to follow. Information is missing or inaccurate. Anything can happen.
I remain here on an unresolved case in Syracuse, NY, where I protested the use of drones in 2014.
Meanwhile the U.S. has exponentially increased its use of drones to kill.

There is talk of a withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1st. An article in the New York Times discusses the forever wars and our permanent war economy.
Presidential war powers allow bombing anyone at any time, circumventing Congress. The CIA and Special Operations Forces do their local lethal work hidden from the U.S. public.
“Light footprint” warfare, ignoring the U.N. Charter, “preserving regional stability,” maintaining a limitless, unilateral military – is that what democracy looks like?
Pope Francis visited Iraq as a penitent. He spoke of wanting to undertake a walk of penance to give comfort to the suffering. He noted the 2003 U.S. war on Iraq.
Our media has kept the U.S. colossal war crime and Middle East debacle well hidden since the 1990s. ISIS and the dogs of war were called out and sent, as we have done around the globe in the 20th century.
The discussion around withdrawal from Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires, has the U.S. mired in economic and moral disaster.

Peace and self-determination are what all people want in their homeland.
Money and resources are needed for the people’s education, housing, health care and environmental issues, not for militaries and ruling elites. The world’s people are so tired of the thievery.
People are now dying in Myanmar, resisting the military takeover of their government. Apparently, the weapons come from Russia and China.
Every warring country has client states around the globe; weaker states are pitted against each other, consuming more weapons.
The UN Security Council gets used in the same way, as a weapon.

Similar maneuvering goes on in here; we imitate the corrupt system and victimize each other. A single cigarette can go for $5. People go into debt to each other, staff makes a killing off of the black market, and inmates take advantage of each other in an exploitative economy. Items get passed down, including craft supplies that should be shared, not sold or exchanged.
For the past month, we have been punished for misconduct when a contraband package was dropped off at the wrong location (the assistant warden’s house).
The wording is “Camp Modified Operations, Due to Misconduct.” An added stand-up count requires us to stand for up to 20 minutes with our BOP ID cards. The Nazis did this to the Jews for hours at a time, forcing some to die on their feet.

My apologies again, dear readers, for the dark writings.
The state of the world is in great disarray.
Mother Earth struggles to maintain the balance.

We have ants in the dorms and people go around with “home guard” insecticide, spraying without asking. Even the chemicals used for cleaning take my breath away. I try to move away from them.
There is a massive insect die off going on in the natural world, with grave implications in the food chain. Many people are terrified by the sight of insects.
We have a walking group, the configuration of which changes as inmates come and go. We encourage each other to walk, and we are up to two miles in a day now.
Today, Palm Sunday, it is windy and raining,– we will see who is willing to go out or if we will be allowed out.
During the week, while walking, the sound of gunfire coming from the onsite shooting range accompanies us. We hear the different firing sounds of big guns, small guns and handguns. One inmate commented that there is a shortage of ammunition these days. Not here with the practice that goes on, – the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers with an unlimited budget and license to kill.
Dear God, I pray for the bitterness in my heart to be reduced this Holy Week. Every day there is still beauty here. I have to remind and encourage myself to see it, to recognize it. The Holy Spirit is strongest when we reach out and share love and concern for each other. The impact is huge in this setting. The women laugh, talk, care for each other’s hair, and carry on with life-giving tasks on a daily basis.
The ones who are placed in quarantine on the upper tier before release have joy on their faces. They are leaving, returning to their families or halfway houses, putting their lives back together. We miss each other, but can still see each other as we walk below, and they are about six feet above us.

Two sparrows wandered in through an outside door, looking for a nesting spot no doubt. They discovered the open window 25 feet above the hall and made their way out. Hearing the chirps inside was a real treat. The mocking birds are back and imitating all the other birds, music to one’s ears.

I remind myself that this setting is so much better than most other prisons, and my time is short here. One woman is six years into a 13-year sentence. Human adaptability and spirit are a wonder to behold.
I look forward to Mass this afternoon with fresh palm fronds. Last night a few of us got together for the beginning of Passover. Our one Jewish inmate had homemade matzo bread provided by the Rabbi. We sat outside at a picnic table and had cheese, banana, and chocolate to go with. She had a platter with parsley, bitter herb, and other items in her room. What a blessing to have each other and God, no matter what!
Christ as the first born from the dead shouldn’t be a stumbling block to the message “peace I give you.” Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, bringing us peace and prosperity, if we want it. It is the full moon, windy and rainy, God is with us.

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