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  • Writer's pictureFrank Lehane

Taste and See Life's Light

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

If you’ve ever been to a jail, there’s not much going on there aside from the droning of TV sports, the odd pickup basketball game in the day room, or the odd visit from a family member or friend to break the monotony. My visits have developed a clarity of purpose over the years. My own personal Blueprint Process has also helped me clarify my purpose, and the why of what I do. My purpose is to shine Light in the dark — to be a Pathfinder, to ignite hope in the heart by being able to see more and do more than one believed, given their current circumstances. 

People I seek to serve, no matter where they are in life, are seeking CONNECTEDNESS. People in jail are no different. They might be seeking, recognizing, and appreciating true connectedness more keenly than we who are outside of prison walls. They seek any glimmer, any hope of redemption, any cherished memory, or any taste of normal life because it is precious to them — like cool water quenching, soothing the thirsty.

Billy is a 28-year-old, tough-looking, tattooed gang member who decided to come for my visit. Behind his and the 5 others’ rough, cynical demeanor, there was a tiredness, a sense of hopelessness, and even a sense of annoyance at being rousted to come to the chaplain’s visit.

Billy in particular reminded me a lot of my younger self. His muscular, stocky build showed signs that he had savored some good things in his young life. After introducing ourselves, we set to reading a Bible message. I chose Billy to lead us off with these conditions: each reader had to read each word out slowly and out loud. Emphasis on s-l-o-w-l-y. An awkward stillness fell over the men. “Why do you want us to do that?” they asked.

I quickly calmed them by asking each man what his favorite cut of steak was, or the name of his favorite steakhouse. That broke the tension! Laughter and banter filled the room. Life was here and alive. Connectedness was here and happening. I explained to the men that I really wanted them to taste each word, to savor the life-filled message before their eyes just like they remember slowly savoring each morsel of a prime steak. Not like bolting down a pile of chicken wings washed down with soda. Billy joyfully read first. Then, the other men clamored enthusiastically for their chance to read next. 

When the hour ended, Billy said, “I love how you tell us stories, Frank. I love the way you use the pictures of food we enjoy. We got to taste it. Thank you for coming. We’re glad we came here today." The other men agreed with Billy. The clarity of purpose that afternoon was fulfilled — to shine Light in the dark, to renew one’s confidence, and to make room for life’s savor and goodness to come out where before they did not believe it or see it. It was a gift that I hope will stay with them for a long time. 

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