Last week, I walked into the Darrington Unit to give my last lectures before the final exam. As I was putting my shoes back on after going through security, I found out that the unit was on lock-down. All the offenders in the prison were “racked up,” that is, they were all confined to their cells while the officers were searching for contraband.
End of year lock-down is a normal and routine procedure. At the end of the year, the officers at the prison clear out whatever contraband materials have made their way into the population. It usually lasts a couple of weeks. This year is different, because lock-down started a lot earlier than normal.
That meant that I had to record my final lectures. The students at Darrington will be watching my recordings as soon as their lock-down is over and they can return to the education wing where we have our “campus.”
This experience helped me to reflect a bit on what on earth I’m doing at the Darrington Unit. My students can’t get out of their cells because they’re on lock-down, for pete’s sake. I can come and go freely. I will be enjoying my Christmas holiday over the next few weeks. Surrounded by my family and my friends, I will be enjoying food, fellowship, and relaxation. I will also be at ease in my study, working on my book project.
My students will not be enjoying any of those things. Are they getting what they deserve? It’s certainly easy to say “yes” and move on. But teaching in the prison certainly gives me perspective on who I am before God, and my own need for reconciliation with Him through Jesus Christ. I can’t be flippant about the question of “deserve.”
On another note, I thought I’d post a sample lecture for you. If you are into the beginning of the French monarchy in the tenth century, enjoy! As you watch, lift up a prayer for those men who are confined to an 8′ x 12′ cell for the next seven days, (and a maximum security prison, many of them for life) and be thankful for your freedom.