Archbishop to clients at prison visit
By Kaelanne Jordan
“How are you waiting while you are here? Is it with joy…anger…frustration? Is it with negativity? How are you waiting?”
Archbishop Jason Gordon put forward this question to clients—formerly referred to as inmates—of Remand Yard, Golden Grove and the Women’s Prison during his annual Christmas prison visit last Tuesday.
The Archbishop made the distinction that while convicted clients await a release date and remanded a court date, how they wait is very important.
“Is it going to be with joyful hope?” he asked.
Archbishop Gordon observed that the clients are living in a “long advent season”.
However, he warned that to wait with joy is different from waiting like “a sour puss”.
“…become a person of joy. No sour puss inside of here,” he challenged.
The Archbishop posed another question to the clients: “What is the height of joy?”
The height of joy, he said, is a kettle “because fire below, boiling water up to the neck but it whistling”, which caused laughter from the women clients. Joy is not the absence of pressure, difficulty or challenges in life. Rather, these characteristics help you to whistle, Archbishop Gordon said.
He continued, “You are experiencing the cross of Christ inside of here. You are experiencing challenges and difficulties. It is difficult to be here; it is difficult to wake up every day but accept this as a time of Advent.”
Archbishop Gordon shared the story of Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. As a prisoner, Frankl gave up hope, too. However, he achieved the last human freedom—a decision which determines whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threaten to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; or whether you renounce freedom and dignity.
To understand this, the Archbishop said is to not only recognise that no-one can take this “gift” away, but that God has a purpose for our life.
“There is something that you must do beyond the walls of this prison. There’s a purpose that God has for you while you are here and after you have left here….When you discover your purpose, when you connect with that purpose that becomes like a rope between now and the future God intends for you,” he said.
The Archbishop’s visits began at the Port of Spain prison on Monday, December 2 and concludes at the Carrera prison this Monday (December 9).
While the day’s prison visits officially concluded at the Women’s Prison, the Archbishop was invited to view the Memorial Garden by Acting Assistant Commissioner of Prisons Fabian Alexander.
The garden located on the prison compound was dedicated to the memory of “fallen colleagues” whose lives were taken in service to the country. The first pillar was in memory of Carlton Robinson who was killed in 1949 and most recently to three officers in 2018.