“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13:3
Because of your support and prayers, it is with great joy to celebrate the great things that are happening at Orange Correctional Center.
I am a lover of trees. That is not to say that I am a tree expert. In fact, beyond the most common species native to the North Carolina Piedmont, I’m really no good at tree identification. I just like being around trees. I like to look at them for what may appear to be an inordinate amount time, and yes, I have been known to hug one on occasion.
It used to be that the winter would bring with it a deep sense of grief. Seeing the trees lose their leaves was such a sad thing for me. Watching the trees descend into a state of dormancy could send my own spirit south for the winter. But over the course of the past several years, there has been a change within me as it relates to my tree infatuation. At first it was gradual. There came a winter in which the predictable process of leaf loss didn’t seem quite so sad. It became apparent to me that a bare tree emits a stark beauty that is concealed in the more verdant months. Over time, I have come to anticipate with a subtle eagerness the very thing that once brought with it such a sense of dread. At this moment, I surmise that there is nothing more profoundly moving than the sight of a leafless oak set against the backdrop of a clear-blue sky…especially if the sun is peering through the gnarled, outstretched branches. I can see several such trees through the Peace Center’s kitchen window.
You can probably see where I’m headed with all of this tree talk. Society at large is in such a time of slumber and apparent lifelessness. This is certainly no less true inside the fence of OCC. Everything has slowed down, and some things have stopped altogether. Even so, life is brewing beneath the surface. No doubt, some of the men may feel as though they are being metaphorically stripped bare, but such are the conditions for new growth.
In this time of limited action in which the men of OCC are nearly compelled into a state of deeper reflection, your continued concern means more than ever. Your prayers and words of encouragement are like medicine in what has been a prolonged and sometimes painful season of stillness.
-Chaplain Josh LeRoy
Note: An extra special thank you goes out to everyone who donated items or funds in support of our Christmas bag program. Each bag included body wash, tooth paste and toothbrush, body powder, deodorant, a candy bar, two Christmas cards, and devotional material. The men were happy to get a gift after a lengthy quarantine!
We still have no word on when volunteer activity might resume, but we will seek to keep you all updated through the website. (aoprisonministry.org)
Words from inside:
“Peace, good health, and blessings to all of our volunteer and AOPM family from the men/’fellas’ of OCC! It is an understatement, but true to acknowledge that this has been a year like no other. In here, not only do we miss your presence, but we miss the programs that make OCC what it is; a facility that has become a utopian oasis in a dry desert of malnourished correctional facilities. Some of the activities that impact us the most that we are desperately craving are…church services, the Ready Singers, 4th of July cookout, Parent Day, One Day with God, the volunteer banquet, birthday parties, re-entry seminars, the Saturday Bible Circle, the very dedicated and faithful Jack Evans, whose Bible study has been in existence longer than I’ve been alive! We have just recently experienced a major outbreak of the virus here. However, thanks to God, and a very competent and dedicated staff of nurses, officers and administration, we have just about gotten through with no serious incidents. So, the answer to the question of how we are…we are good and resilient, we are blessed, we are the gentlemen/’fellas’ of OCC.”
A prayer for the season
“May the icy winds and the bright snows of Winter bring peace and clarity to all who are heavy-burdened. I give thanks for the wise qualities of the ever-green trees that have stood by me this day: may you show me how my own heart can be evergreen and growing through winters of doubt and darkness.”