Winter 2012 Jottings – Chaplain Peter

Ahhh, tis fall once again in our fair land. The nights are chilled and the days are delightfully temperate with the crisp scent of autumn. The leaves of the trees have turned from green to shocking shades of yellow, orange, and red. The beauty of God’s paint palette is outstanding.

It will not take long for the leaves to turn a shade of brown and fall to the ground thus having to be raked, shredded, and composted. It seems to me I just got finished ridding my yard of last year’s leaf fall and now I have to deal with it once again. Oh, but the cycle will never end as it is a necessary cycle for life to continue in the balance.

One day a woman was walking among the brown dry leaves on the ground with her granddaughter. The woman could only see the dry death of the leaves and the drudgery of getting rid of natures trash when all of a sudden the child picked up a brown dry leaf and proclaimed with glee, “See how pretty!” The innocence of a child makes such a difference of perception with regards to God’s plan for life to continue. Maybe when Jesus said that we should become like little children he meant that in our perception of others we would see the ”beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

People who have made wrong decisions and ‘end up incarcerated are not unlike the leaves in the fall. Life as they had known before has come to a halt and then they are cut off from the family tree and fall to the ground. Are they castoffs of society destined for decay or do they get picked up by a child of God who declares them beautiful? What will it take for the fallen to be able to get up and be “clothed in a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair?”

As a chaplain, I have learned to see through innocent eyes when working with those who have fallen from the trees and landed in Chester County Prison. Not seeing people as dead men walking, but as someone beautiful in God’s plan of life. The leaves that fall to the ground each year become nutrients for the tree from which they fell, but not until they have been repurposed. Men and women whom we work with as chaplains also have an opportunity to be repurposed in God’s plan of life so they, too, will be nutrients to their families and others. With an average of 1,022 inmates currently incarcerated-at Chester County Prison, there are many leaves to help become new creations in Christ, repurposed as beauty for ashes in a society depleted of nutrients.

Thank you for your continued support, which enables us to be involved in this important work because these leaves fall all year long, not just in the autumn.

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