Monday, April 30, 2007


April 25, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

Right now we are ono Lockdown. I was getting a dental intake and so I sit here in the dental chair for what is going on an hour and 15 minutes. Thank God I have a book and paper and pen!

The dentist was very professional. He did a good job.

Later in the day:
I walked and walked and walked today. It was a beautiful day. A cloudless deep blue sky...a full wind. Last night I went to bed under a tornado watch. We are the highest floor of what we call "the projects." I asked the officer on duty, "Should we go to a lower floor?" I was told to SHUT UP. He then came back, after locking us in and said, "Listen ladies, you think you are all something...let me tell you while you're here you are NOTHING!" He then proceeded to take away our microwave and the TV times. I don't microwave much, just water for (gulp) instant coffee. (Guess what! I am extremely grateful for instant coffee) and I don't watch any TV so it was not a big deal for me but what got me was someone calling all these women NOTHING! I also have a tough time with having someone tell me when I have to go to bed. Basically, when we have to "go to your house," you can only really go to your bunk. In a 10 ft. by 10 ft. cinder block room with 2 sets of bunks, a small built in table and 4 short lockers stacked 2 by 2...there is little room for 4 women to move around.

I bought myself a light to read by because at 10:30 we MUST turn out all lights. Sometimes I am not ready to sleep so I turn on my little book light and read. I must say I am entirely grateful for the books. They keep my sanity. Prison life is all about waiting.....Lines are long and sometimes even after you've waited for an hour or more, you will be told the person or service you've been waiting for is not available. So I am learning patience. It is one of those graces I am short on so I guess I am learning. But I always keep a book with me or a pad of paper and a pen or pencil. ALWAYS!! I can't bring these things into the dining room so the big baggy brown pants and shirts are good for something.

I saw my shadow this morning and I thought "Wow! I don't even look like myself." The short, short hair and baggy clothes...I just thought for a second, "Who is that?" It is so important in prison to remember who I am. It is far too easy to forget, to be hammered down. But keep on praying, walking and listening to people's stories. Somehow listening to their stories, really listening, I see their pain and feel it but in feeling the pain, so too do I remember both the pain and joy.

Please continue to hold to the light and in prayer the women here. I will tell you the story of Ms. B. She is Native American. She is 51 but looks like she could be 65 or more. She has a colostamy and a second "exterior" bag for a stomach. She was, she says, in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was in a hotel room with her son when a drug deal went down and it was a sting. She fought the charges b/c she said she didn't do anything wrong. The judge, she said, denied the polygraph test twice. In the end she got 34 years which is basically a life sentence. I saw her today. She told me she is afraid she has an infection at the site of the colostamy. She asked me for some paper and a pen (this should be, according to Carswell rules, made available to her). She cried as she said she wants to chronical what is happening to her in case she dies. She wants to get her version of what happened to her out to her family. She is so scared of dying here. All I could do was listen and pat her on the back. Little comfort but it was something. She told me she has to take her pills in the "outside bag" stomach and flush it with water. When she came back she said the physician's assistant told her she was "too much trouble" and that she'd wish she would hurry up as the PA wanted to beat the storm that was brewing. Ms. B. said, "Ms, I have 28 pills to crush and flush. I'm sorry I'm so much trouble." I feel like crying as I write this. Please pray for her that she has peace. She is so scared.

And the stories go on and on. Maybe each time i write I could include a story. I will not violate any confidentiality but I want to share the stories. Somehow each of us can resonate with something, some part of a story. We feel some of the same emotion and we understand.

I am fasting today until the 27th for the SOAW legislation. So many people here listen to the story of what SOA/WHINSEC is about. Not one of the women who listen turn away. Most shake their heads in disgust. I have given lots of information and while most folks are not surprised, they are disgusted. Lots of them have been messed around by the Federal Gov't so they understand. One 78 year old grandmother told me that the Feds win 98% of all cases. She said, "Not since Hitler's Germany has a gov't won such a large percentage of the cases." She went on, "AND they are proud of it." THese two women believed b/c they did not do what they were accused of, if they took it to trial, they would be found innocent. Instead, they were given more time and lost their cases.

AND SO IT GOES!!! On and on and on. I do not despair but I am so sad for them and for us all...More later and with grateful love and prayers-

P.S. I am starting a new book called, "Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal" by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD. I want to quote something that seemed to stick out at me..."Suffering-whether physical, emotional, spiritual, or often the case, all three--can be a doorway to transformation...our personal suffering is sometimes worsened by the lack of communication and community. Illness (and I add imprisonment) often intensifies these feelings of isolation. Telling stories can be healing. We all have within us access to a greater wisdom, and we may not even know that until we speak out loud. Listening to stories can also be healing. A deep trust of life often emerges when you listen to other people's stories. Ordinary people living ordinary lives often are heroes."

I find this to be so very, very true. I find hope in stories. I find courage and truth and pain and despair all in one, rolled together and shaken down.

In solidarity and prayer I remain-

Friday, April 27, 2007


Here is the first letter I have received from Tina. The envelope is postmarked April 25 and it is the 27th, so the time between her writing this and my receiving it is about a week. I am not sure, though, that she wrote this all in one day due to her mention of 5 days at one point. Anyway enjoy! I got the feeling that she is doing quite well.

April 20, 2007

Dear Friends,
It is Friday of the first week but one week is not yet complete. It feels as if I have been here for months, MONTHS. Prison is not a NICE place. The system is hard. Women suffer so much despair being separated from their children, their family, spouses, friends. And then there is the "system." I now understand more about Civil Rights and the unfreedom of slavery than I ever could have known. The treatment of second-class citizens, the separate facilities (inmate bathroom dirty, no soap, no lock...) vs. staff bathrooms--many places are Out of Bounds. Lots of tiny, silly, insignificant rules meant to keep people off balance. And the list goes on. Our unit consists of a two-tiered concrete block unit which holds 250 people. You cannot imagine how the noise bounces off the walls. THe "system" is meant to punish. Inmates are looked upon as a step lower than people who deserve respect and dignity. And so people tend to act as they are treated.

But I have found that there are so many, many good and decent folks who are forced to reside here. Ms. Gail, Irish, Griffent, and Saundra have taken me under their wings. As I wait for my money to clear (Day 5 and no money yet) they have lent me tennis shoes as the RHINO black steel toe boots have left blisters on my feet, coffee to relieve the caffeine withdrawal headaches, shower shoes so I don't get staph infections from the shower and thermal tops so I don't freeze to death in the ice box called our unit. They are angels sent by God. Carrie Newcomer has a song called Geodes. Some of the lyrics are "God walks round in muddy boots, sometimes rags and that's the truth, you can't always tell but sometimes you just know." Well let me tell you...God walks around here in khaki brown pants and khaki tshirts. And while this place is filled with despair and sorrow, it is also filled with compassion, care, and love. Peace is one thing notably missing though. I am making peace cranes and some of the women love them. You see, anything you give someone in prison, from a piece of folded paper, to a book, to a kind word, all these things are like gold...there is that much physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual depravation. Honestly, even the refugees in a sense have more Freedom...

There are two rows of fences to keep us in, complete with razor wire and electric but the compound where I walk morning, noon, and night is wonderful. I must have put in 10 to 15 miles already. Perhaps I am like a hamster in a cage and I'm running on that wheel that goes no where but my mind dreams as I walk and I am outside in the fresh air and away from the noise. It is where I find peace...A commodity in short supply at Carswell.

There are many people, elderly women, severly ill women who live here. My heart goes out to them so. I ask myself "why ask an elderly person to spend their last years in a place like Carswell?" There isn't anything they could of done to deserve this treatment. But I find touching that there are younger women who push them in their wheelchairs, who massage their neck and arms. See what I mean about God walking around in khaki brown?!?

I am trying to practice Tonglen, a Buddhist breathing practice/meditation here. I received a book called "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times" by Pema Chodron. She has a chapter or two on Tonglen. She writes, "People often say that this practice goes against the grain of how we usually hold ourselves together. Truthfully, this practice (of Tonglen) does go against the grain of wanting things on our own terms, wanting everything to work out for ourselves no matter what happens to the others. This practice dissolves the walls we've built around our hearts. It dissolves the layers of self-protection we've tried so hard to create. Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In the process, we become liberated from very ancient patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others. Tonglen awakens our compassion and introduces us to a far bigger view of reality."

I find when I do Tonglen as I pray, my heart which is always on guard here, again softens and this allows me to experience God's very real presence in the women I am with. This is not a mental game or a spiritual gimmick. My Friends, this is as real as your hand in front of your face. As real as your need to breathe. It is SO SO SO very easy to shut down here. I mean you see so much pain you just want to protect your heart at all costs but in protecting you lose your own peace. I f my heart hardens I become despairing, depressed and in much more pain. But if I breathe in the pain, the suffering, the despair I see and let the breathing out be peace and kindness and compassion, then my heart remains soft and I am at peace. Yes, it opens one up to more pain, because you can't help but feel the pain here, the very walls cry out but somehow this taking in the pain in my breath and releasing peace and compassion in the exhilation...strangely enough, this is healing.

Please write when you can. I can't tell you how much I look forward to mail call. Just a line or a postcard is so, so, so very encouraging.

I am writing everyday, letters, journal entries, prayers. Writing is keeping me on an equal balance. The deprivation is really no big deal. I am, day by day, not missing more and more things. Each day I meet a new person and i try to smile and give a kind word, especially to the elderly or sick or to some who seem desparate. And people, I find do the same for me. I feel the humanness that the system seems to try to suck out of us when I meet someone's eyes.

I will write more later.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Quick correction

Hi everyone.
I just wanted to let you know that I have not yet talked to Tina or received any letters. (There actually might be a problem with my mail delivery at the moment). I would think that we should here from her in the next couple of days, as that window of about one week of processing is closed. Until then, the solidarity in mind and heart will keep us going!

One correction to the last message: For those of you in St. Louis looking to attend the potluck to break the fast tomorrow, the directions were slightly wrong. Just a note: turn left onto Newstead, at the light, when going east on Manchester, after crossing Kingshighway.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reminder about the Close the SOA Fast: Hungry for Justice!

This message comes from a friend of Tina's. She wanted to remind everyone of the fast to close the SOA and to invite those in the St. Louis area to a potluck to break the fast. For more info on the fast, go to

Blessings to Tina! We are all thinking of her.

I just wanted to remind everyone on the list that we are planning on fasting in solidarity with Tina as part of Hungry for Justice, the national fast to close the SOA. The fast is this Wednesday-Friday. We are also planning on breaking the fast together on Friday evening, starting at 5p.m. until 7 p.m. at CTSA. It's a potluck and we would love and welcome anyone who would join us!

CTSA: Center for Theology and Social Analysis

1107 S. Newstead (turn left onto Newstead, at the light, when going east on
>Manchester, after crossing Kingshighway.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Together in spirit

Hi everyone,
This morning, I talked to Tina as she was on her way to have breakfast with supporters in Texas. There are many peacemakers there who will try to visit her during the next two months and they were gathering this morning before she reported at noon. She wanted me to let everyone know that she made it down to Fort Worth yesterday and is doing okay today. There will be some time now when we will not hear from her in writing or on the phone and I know that this is difficult. I want to remind you that if you simply quiet yourself and listen deeply and with love, your spirit will be right there with Tina as she adjusts to a new reality. As soon as I hear from her, I will post news here. Know that we are together in the love of God on this journey.

Here is Tina's address again:
Christine M. Busch-Nema #92944-020
FMC Carswell
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127

Also, do not use a return address label--write it on the envelope itself! Do not try to send money or stamps.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bound together we leave for Carswell...all of us together.

God’s life and our lives are bound together, as a vine with
> >as a body with members. So corporate are we that no one can give a
cup of
> >cold water to the least person in the world without giving it to
> >
> > - Rufus M. Jones
> > from “The Double Search
> > This thought strikes me. strongly.....Every good work, kind deed,
> >encouraging word...all is given to God as well. Kind of blows my
> >am sure I will be the one receiving the cup of water from my sisters
> >prison...and God will too. We are all so interconnected with Grace
with each other. In fact, I think I take each of you with me to Carswell.

The fear we are spoon fed tries to keep us isolated
seperate but it is all an illision! It gives me such comfort to know
are all, each of us connected with each other and ultimately and
connected with God. I don't feel so alone.

My wish is that this connection is strong within our hearts and

Folks, it is very late and I am leaving very early this morning for Fort Worth.

Today I prayed with the Scripture passage about consider the lilies of the field...and how much more God cares for us and loves we don't have to worry. this gives me such peace. I know going to Carswell is a gift. Not that I relish going. It is so hard to be away from my kids and Sandeep, but somehow, I know..really know deep down in the depths of my heart and soul that all will be well and God is there. I don't have to worry or FEAR any one or any thing. God goes before me and all around me.

An SSND gave me a medal that says on the back in Latin, (she had to tell me what it said because I didn't know) "Do what ever he tells you." Kind of blew my mind again. I know it all sounds weird and doesn't make sense in this terror filled, "national security at all cost" world. I know I sound naive and off my rocker. But I don't think I have ever been more sane. So I go with peace and in peace. Please hold my children and husband and family in the palm of your hands. It is hard for them to understand as well. But I love them with every fiber of my being.

Monday, April 2, 2007


Reverence is a gentle virtue; it is also strong. Reverence is a tender virtue; it is also tough. Reverence is a patient virtue; it is also persistent. Reverence bears no ill will toward others; it is able to bear the ill will of others when necessary. Reverence is a virtue that prepares us well to belong to one another; it reaches out to thise who have given messages of not wishing to belong.

When we approach others with gentle reverence, we bring gifts and share theirs with us.

- Paula Ripple

I found this quote of Paula Ripples so true. It is sometimes hard to do but it is always worth the effort, I think. I am finding these days that opposites live side by side. Joy and sorrow, peace and anxiety, hope and despair...This is what is real. what is not so real is either trying to always feel good or always think everything is bad. There are lots of grays in this least for me.

I want to bring a spirit of reverence with me as I go to Carswell. I may not always be reverent...but I want to be... I think the only real enemy I face there is fear. Fear makes us do and say things we normally would not say or do. Fear takes away our ability to freely freely lay down our lives in service or out of love. There is a part in John's gospel when Jesus says, "No one takes my life, I FREELY give it..." This is how I go into Carswell...I FREELY go realizing no one can force me if I freely lay down my life. I think love gives us the capacity to lay down our lives freely. Fear on the other hand, takes that freedom. Fear demands we close down and hold tight...Fear demands and commands and takes.

Yes I am afraid to go to Carswell. But I also have this faith that Jesus goes before I am not as alone as it seems...

More later. and thanks for you supportive prayers and concern