Sunday, April 1, 2007

palm sunday in jail

yesterday i spent the morning in HM Prison Barwon.  dad and i drove there at 7:45am and met 10 other visitors at the gates.  we were there to play a game of cricket against the Barwon prisoner team.  my dad is a prison fellowship worker and it is not uncommon for volunteers to get teams together and play games of soccer, vollyball, or cricket against prisoners.

Barwon is a maximum security prison so our entrance into the facility took quite a while.  think: boarding a plane in the months following september 11 attack and multiply it by 3.  we were scanned individually in a large chamber that huffed and puffed all over us in an effort to garner evidence of drugs or explosives.  we signed in, patted down, scanned with a metal detector, asked to show the top of our socks and behind our belts.  pockets were turned out and finally we were given passes to wear indicating our status as visitors. 

we made it through to a parched cricket ground...parched doesn't really get it.  it was more like a huge sand-pit with clumps of wiry grass every few metres.  soon enough the opposition arrived and there were basic rules laid out to govern the match.  it was a limited overs game - 25 overs each team.  we had a great match.  the spirit was good and although there was plenty of sledging, no real anger came to the surface.  apparently the last group that went in played soccer and that particular game ended early with some verbal (and physical) sparring.  i was also mindful of my last visit to play sport in jail.  i was 16 years old and it was a game of australian rules football.   i was playing for our God's Squad team and i ended up getting knocked out by a very large bloke who's right-cross fractured my cheek bone and put a permanat click in my jaw.

it was good to have a couple of conversations with several of the prisoners.  the raw pain of prison never ceases to amaze me and i have a renewed respect for people (like my dad) who go into that context several times a week and look to find the grace and love of God.  it seemed like a good way to spend palm sunday, the day when Jesus turned up in Jerusalem on that understated steed.


WITWATW said...

So glad you made it through unscathed Geoff. Cricket is a gentleman's sport, and i am glad the lads all behaved. I reckon if Jesus wasn't riding that donkey on Palm Sunday, he would have been down the back of the olive tree paddock having a kick of the footy with the kids, or down the pub with the lads. Good on you!

WITWATW said...
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