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Voices from Behind the Wall
Stories and poetry from our incarcerated friends.

"Chapter Four of your book: OBLIVION evoked emotions and

memories that I would have been afraid to let surface before.

But today is was nice to remember and not feel shame, guilt,

or any other emotion other than gratitude that I am not that

same person today. It also reminded me of how many

challenges I have overcome this time in prison. 
   Thank you for always being willing to listen and for being

here for me and others. May God continue to keep you and

bless you."
 

  Rachel D. - Arizona State Prison - Perryville 

 
 
 
 
"Hi Sister Greta,
My name is Adrain Batton and I am 37 years old. I am incarcerated
at the Las Colinas Women's Detention and Re-entry Facility in Santee,
California . I recently read your book: FREE ON THE INSIDE, and it was
amazing! It came to me in God's perfect timing because I have been
praying for help in my prayer time, so your meditation section section
has really spoken to me. I am now practicing taking time each day to
meditate on God's Word. 
- Adrian Batton - Los Colinas Women's Facility
 
                                              .    .    .
 
 
 
"Today I feel it is beautiful to know one’s ancestral background,
but what is more important is knowing that we all belong to
one race and that is the human race. Once we come to that
understanding, then we can see all life as connected and expand
that awareness. In studying about self-awareness and
consciousness, I feel like everything finally makes sense and at
the same time doesn’t have to make sense anymore because we
are all connected and we are all on our own unique journey of
learning and growing."  
– Jessica M. – California Institute for Women
   Jessica is a Divine Companion of CDL
                                                       .    .    .
 
 
"God has instilled in me to offer unconditional love to everyone I come
into contact with. Love doesn’t cost anything. God gave us love to spread
throughout the world. I will continue to share my love at San Quentin,
and I will do the same when I get out."  
Scott L. – San Quentin S.P.
    Scott is a Divine Companion of CDL
      
                                              .    .    .
 
COMPASSION


The world is what you make it. What you give is what you get.

And what you seek you will find.

You just have to give it a little time.

PATIENCE. No one said it would be easy.

Whatever affects one affects the other, and we call that SYMPATHY.

What you believe to be true will be true.

If you want to see a change in the world, be that change in the world.

Let go of all your guilt and blame, so that others can do the same.

To FORGIVE is to give. Sometimes you need to help show people the way.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t go astray.

Don’t be discouraged by those who let you down.

Because sometimes we also let ourselves down.

Would you walk over yourself if you were knocked down on the ground?

If something were causing you pain, wouldn’t you want it to go away?

If you have KINDNESS in your heart, you will have eyes full of MERCY.

Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Not you against me.

To truly love yourself and everyone else unconditionally

is what COMPASSION means to me.  

 

                                     Jessica Martinez -  California Institute for Women

                                                                       Jessica is a Divine Companion of CDL

                                                                                                                                                          

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START WITH YOU

How can there be injustice in the middle of proclamation and anthems of equality that we all venerate and subscribe to? If you truly look deeply into the ethical conscience of our society, the deficiencies in our personal thoughts and intentions will be the start to the answer as to why we sustain an unjust existence. The pursuit of happiness is killed every time our thoughts and beliefs make the heart desire power and control to exert over another human being.

 

The deceit that is laid bare before us all to stomach is consumed with gusto. We allow behavior that murders Love. All of this goes on and on while we direct our attention to the almighty drive of self-preservation which breeds callousness, or a subtle but powerful indifference. The weight of all the wrongdoings through the generations is carried around by us all. There is no escape for the perpetrator or the victim. We share a misery and torment which fear masks appropriately according to which side of the spectrum we fall under.

 

How can we bring about real change? We must forge an allegiance with one another that champions empathy. We have to learn not to lie to ourselves about the reality we all partake in. We must find a way to subvert the customs and traditions that have festered in our halls and chambers of leadership. On the one hand, we need to fully acknowledge, and on the other hand, we need to forgive.

 

Give effort to investigate the facts before reaching conclusions that will subconsciously draw a line in the sand for you. We must never tolerate prejudice talk or action in our presence. We must give respect to all the cultures we are surrounded by. Through education and wisdom we must resist and fight the suppression of opportunity and advancement of all who deserve it. Grandiose speeches are handy, and the words of understanding enlighten the unaware, but for this writer, the adherent power within everyone to create an energy that might seem insignificant in the face of such enormous conformity will spearhead the real movement of change.

Our humanity will not be silenced. It screams for it’s survival. I commend those who are pushing for change and reform – District Attorney George Gascon, the Community of Divine Love, REIMAGINE JUSTICE, my dear Brother Dennis and Sister Greta, and the many that believe that this is the time for needed change.

 

- Michael A. Smith

“While I was incarcerated in Men’s Central Jail, Brother Dennis' Sacred Journey gatherings were the only place where I had a spiritual outlet that allowed an opportunity to feel loved by God. It gave me a lot of hope in a place and time in my life where hope was scarce. I am deeply grateful for Sacred Journey because it was where I began to change my ways and better my life.”

-David Gonzalez

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“We could not ask for a better voice, pen, and advocate than Community of Divine Love and their REIMAGINE JUSTICE ministry to fight on behalf of all of us who call you friends.”

-Nikolaus O.

California State Prison – Tehachapi

Nikolaus is a Divine Companion of CDL

In life we continuously come across people that inspire us. Most inspire us for short periods of time, a day a month, perhaps even a year. Sacred Journey, on the other hand, continues to inspire me even years after my release. Brother Dennis was able to create a very rare, sacred space that will undoubtedly continue to be a source of inspiration for the rest of my life. It has been almost 2 years since my release, and I write this sitting at the Community of Divine Love monastery, a testament to the power of Sacred Journey.

-Danny “3-D” Hoyas

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Through the Community of Divine Love the Lord has blessed me with a friend closer than a brother. I am deeply grateful for our spiritual journey. I have become at peace and more sure of the Lord’s love with every letter we share.

-Larry S.

California State Prison – Lancaster

Just when I was ready to give up, I found goodness, love, and acceptance when I walked into the Episcopal Church service in Men’s Central Jail. That day saved my life – literally. Having you to walk this spiritual path of recovery with and work through trauma is healing me in ways I never thought possible.

-Will M.

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THE INCARCERATED DESERT MOTHERS

 

Thank you for the book on the Desert Mothers. I LOVE IT! I wrote down some of the phrases/words that really spoke to me. Here are a few:

- “Words reveal our heart. Be wise in what we say.”

- “Take responsibility for your actions.”

- “Mindlessness is the enemy of the journey.”

- “The cell is a place of spiritual combat and a place where one finds their truest self and deepened awareness of one’s woundedness” (I love that one).

- “in Simplicity one experiences the abundance of God’s presence.”

- “We carry ourselves wherever we go and we cannot escape temptation by mere flight.”

 

I just finished reading Open Mind, Open Heart. It’s really great and super helpful. I would love more information on meditation. I want to circulate these things to my desert sisters here in the module. But The Book of Common Prayer is my favorite. You can tell by how worn it is. I do the daily devotions as in the morning (8am), noon (11-12), early evening (5:30pm) and at the close of day (8:15pm). I feel connected, knowing that the monks at Community of Divine Love are praying at these same times. I also read psalm 103 and can now almost recite it by heart. I also love to read the Catechism Q & A. I am constantly finding cool stuff in the Book of Common Prayer.

- Rosa is a friend on the inside

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AND STILL I BLOOM ...

 

I am from the earth

I am from the stars

I am a fragile flower

My sun kissed petals are devastatingly crushed by nature's raging fists

And still I bloom...

I envy the sun as I bask in its radiance

I admire the moon that offers light in a night's sky

I easily inhale such little pleasures with such great pain

I breathe although I fear each breath is driving me more and more insane

And still I breathe...

And I...

And I believe, although even on my knees I tremble

And I cry, even when I do not know the reasons why

And I pray, opening my heart in gratitude for another day

And smile, with hope in my heart and stars in my eyes,

I'll be happy awhile.

 

-Koi

THE TIME I'VE WASTED

The time I’ve wasted is my biggest regret,

This prison life of emptyness, I’ll never forget...

Trap in my body wanting to run,

Back to my youth with it laughter & fun...

Now the chase is over, there’s no place to hide,

Everything is gone including my pride...

With reality right in my face,

I’m scared, alone, & stuck in this place...

Memories past through my head,

The pain is obvious by the tears I’ve shed...

Everyday I ask myself why, where did I go wrong,

I guess I was weak when I should of been strong...

Out there living for the drugs,

Not realizing the devil’s wings I’ve grown,

My feelings were lost afraid to be shown...

So I’d pretend to be ruget, so fast & so cool,

When actually I was lost like a blinded old fool...

I’m getting too old for this tiresome game,

Of acting hard with no sense of shame...

It’s time I’ve changed & move on with my life,

Fulfilling my dreams of a family & wife...

Cause what my future holds I really don’t know,

But all these years I’ve wasted are starting to show...

I wait for the day when I get a new start,

Of living out the dreams I still hold deep in my heart...

I hope I make it, I at least have to try,

Cause I’m headed towards death & I don’t want to die!

 

-Gustavo

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THE NIGHT I CAME TO JAIL

When it felt like he was breaking my fingers,

I told him he was violating my rights

When he swung a night-stick at my head,

I thought he was going to hurt me, so I moved to the side.

When she reached for her hip,

I thought she was going to shoot me.

When he reached for his hip,

I thought he was going to shoot me.

When he shot me, I thought he was going to kill me.

When he shot me, I thought he was going to kill me.

When she shot me, I thought she was going to kill me.

When they tazed me, I thought they were going to kill me.

When they tazed me, I thought they were going to kill me.

When they tazed me, I thought they were going to kill me.

When they tazed me, I thought they were going to kill me.

When they handcuffed me, I thought they were going to torture me.

When they dragged me across the floor, I thought they were going to kill me.

When the D.A. told me I was being charged with attempting to murder two “Officers of the Peace”

I thought I was going to be sick.

 

- Daniel

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