Tuesday, May 15, 2007

May 5, 2007

First, Tina is asking for everyone to send her origami paper. They are going to have a "peace day" at Carswell!

Dear Friends,
I apologize for writing so much. I do so for several reasons. First and foremost it keeps me SANE. It is the only way I process "stuff" and there is so much "stuff" here. Second, I feel the need to share what happens. Somehow I think ignorance of situations, while it is blissful to 'not know,' it is by knowing that change can happen and third, it is an opportunity to share ideas. Should you have ideas you want to share please use the blog or my email address cbuschnema@yahoo.com. (You know I almost forgot my own email address that I use probably more than my home address and phone number combined!) I find it astounding that I DO NOT miss the computer nor TV. I have yet to sit down and watch anything! Needless to say the downside is I really don't know ANY news at all from the outside world.

I wanted to put minds at ease. I am on the mend from my bout of food poisoning. I finally got an "idle" from work today. I will get 2 days off followed by my two "regular" days off. I will not bore you with the saga of poor/nonexistent medical care...I could write pages. Needless to say, I had to get, what for me, is NASTY. It is the only language the staff undstands if you want to get anywhere. I wish it was different.

I slept most of the day despite the constant noise of an overcrowded unit made of cinderblock and concrete.

My sisters here are so special. Many have asked me how I am and have offered to cook soups for me, seared up tattered green tea bags and offered the home remedies from their countries. I can now keep plain rice and bread down. Tomorrow, oatmeal and maybe cereal...I want to go slow to make sure it stays where it belongs and doesn't run right through, if you know what i mean.

It was perhaps a blessing in disguise that I got sick b/c now i know first hand what happens to women everyday...and this is a medical facility! In fact, when my boss asked me why I didn't go to sick call yesterday and I told him they ran out of time and did not see me, he said, "And this is supposed to be a hospital?" I about fell over.

I want to share a humorous story just so you know we do laugh sometimes. There is a treat here made by inmates called Jailhouse Suckers. They are made by taking "Now and Later" candy and melting them around a tootsie pop. Well, a bunch of us were sitting outside talking and taking turns holding the umbrella to shade Ms J who is in a wheelchair having had two strokes. Ms Gail went to scare up some suckers for us and gave on tto me and Ms J. Folks were talking and just jawing when Ms J who had been sucking on her jailhouse sucker with all her might pulls the sucker out with her teeth, announcing her teeth were STUCK to the sucker. I thought we would all pee our pants laughing! She would stick her teeth which were wrapped around the sucker back in her mouth and suck some more and some more all the while she is trying to pry her teeth off. Finally she says through the sucker..."Darling wheel me in. I got to get this off here." Honestly I thought I would not be able to move I was laughing so hard. We went inside looking for a bathroom her wheelchair would fit into. The only one we found had NO water...none at all. So I found one (she could not get her chair in) with water and she handed me her teeth and after lots of HOT water, her teeth finally were free. She told me, "Throw that damn thing away!" (Meaning the sucker, not her teeth!) SHe laughed at herself, saying "And I thought I was doing such a good job of sucking on it. I NEVER want another one of those things." So much for jailhouse suckers and Ms J!!

One thing I am struggling with is how do I forgive the torturers, the guards and officials who constantly treat us like garbage? The question came up in prayer and I struggle so much with knowing how to do this. It seems as if I just keep running into this subject over and over in my reading and in letters and books that are being sent. I will share two of these. One came from a nun I really don't know personally, it was a copy of something she sent along with a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus knocking on the door.

The reading is called Sand and Stone
Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt but w/o saying anything wrote in the sand. "Today my best fried slapped me in the face."

They kept on walking until they found an oasis. There they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning but the friend saved her.

After she recovered from the near drowing, she wrote on a stone: "Today my best friend saved my life."

The friend who had slapped and saved her best friend asked her, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now you write on a stone, why?"

The friend replied, "When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it."

I think I have been doing the opposite, writing in the stone of condemnation, the litany of hurts I see and experience. I guess I am afraid that if I forgive I will condone. I still struggle mightily with this! What Jesus said about loving enemies is so damn hard. To forgive, really forgive!! SOmetimes I just pray that I want to forgive but I don't know how. I am reminded of the AA philosophy of praying for what I want for myself for my enemy, even if I don't mean it and have to fake the prayer. The second thing is from a book I just received called "YOu Will be My Witness" by John Dear, SJ.

I am reading a saint a day as the book is about saints, prophets, and martyrs. Today I read about Josephine Bakhita who was born in Darfur in 1869. She was sold into slavery at the age of six. During her youth, she was tattooed over her entire body except her face with a razor blade, having salt poured into her open wounds. Josephine chose to forgive her torturers during the course of her life. John Dear writes..."Josephine finds true healing only when she decides to forgive her kidnappers and torturers. Many might dismiss this act as simplistic or pious by it is neither. It is brave, daring, and bold--the key to healing, inner peace, and personal transformation. Indeed her act of forgiveness opens n ew doors in her life by freeing her to reach out in loving service to others, as a follower of Jesus who forgave. Most of the world's problems, including most of the Church's (catholic and all other religions, I think he means) problems, stem from our refusal to forgive. If we dare let go of our hurts, anger, bitterness, and resentment, if we forgive everyone who ever hurt us, we, too, will discover the contemplative depth of healing and radiate a peace not of this world."

I don;t have much more to say. Somehow I thikn this time and the harsh psychological cruelty I witness calls me to this, though I would by lying if I said I was there. I struggle. The most I can say is...I WANT TO. Maybe this is a first step. I'm not sure.

I am also reading Thoreau's essay on Civil Disobedience. I just started it. I have read it long ago. I am grateful to Tom who sent it.

Most of all I am so VERY grateful for all the cards, letters, and books..I can not tell you how much they mean to me, to us! One of the women on the unit said jokingly during mail call, "Busch should get her own mail bin." ANd everyone laughed. I share the books and pass around some of the cards. So many women HUNGER for news from the outside.

You know scraps of tape, empty jars, bits and pieces of things are used and reused here. Some of the beautiful cards I give the front to some women. Holy cards and other pictures, like the one of Jesus knocking on the door, go up in people's lockers...so even though I get the mail, they love what write and the beautiful cards and spiritual material you send. Prison is perhaps the MOST spiritual place I have ever been. Honest, faithful, trusting, soul-searching and heartfelt...a cathedral of testimony to God's loving faithfulness. I am, with so much love and gratitude, your sister,
P.S. If someone could send the Big Book of AA it would be gratefully appreciated...thanks.

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