Monday, June 30, 2008

Reflections after 5 years in prison ministry

Today is my last day in prison.

It is hard to believe that I was involved in prison ministry at the State of Alaska' only maximum security prison for over 5 years. Time certainly does fly by. It is been interesting, challenging, frustrating, and rewarding, and sometimes all of these at the same time. I have worked with some wonderful and caring staff. And I have been blessed to see the lives of some prisoners truly transformed, partly I hope, through my presence and ministry among the men here. And of course I'm sure I have been taken advantage of and used as well, but I suppose that is true for all of ministry, perhaps just more prevalent here in prison.

I'm disappointed that the job is being terminated due to the decision of the legislature of our state to no longer fund the position. It is a reflection on the hard hearted attitudes in this state and is extremely shortsighted.

But as I have deal with the reality of loosing the position, I have also come to grips with how very stressful the job has been for me. To be honest I never imagined it would be quite that stressful, particularly since I have always felt that I was a pretty laid back, low stress person.

As I was thinking about stress in my life I realized something else. In my Coast Guard career I usually only spent 2 or so years at any job before being transferred to a new assignment. My five years at prison and seven years at St. Peter's represent the longest I have ever been at the same job. And I wonder that if, after 24 years of moving on over and over again, that perhaps just the idea of staying at the same thing (no matter how rewarding) is just not my cup of tea. Perhaps this contributed to my feelings of stress over the years.

I'm looking forward to the slightly less stressful job of becoming a maritime instructor this fall, sort of a return to my roots, while I wait to see what God may have in store for me for ministry in the future.

And I'm still hopeful to find another ministry opportunity out there somewhere and am trusting in God that something will work out in my future.


FranIAm said...

Many prayers for you Robert, as God calls you to new things.

What an interesting reflection about how long you have generally been in one role.

It is galling to me that the prison ministry is about to be undone? Well I guess as a paid position... Volunteer nation, right?

In any event, prayers to you as you make your way on the path. Send some in return if you might. I am unemployed and searching as much for a job as for what God calls me to at this point in my life.

Pax my brother.

Robert said...

Thanks for your kind words my dear sister Fran. I will also pray for you in your job search. God's peace and blessings.

Father David Heron said...

Hope you find a worthwhile job in ministry. God bless

Robert said...

Thanks Fr. David!

FranIAm said...

Thanks Robert, I could use the prayers, I am a bit adrift and more fearful than usual.

How grateful I am to be a part of this community, virtual in one sense but most real in ways that matter.

We are faith in community so that really changes the focus of GAFCON and other things that challenge us all.