Exiting the Donovan prison gates a changed man

Two men, after over two decades in maximum-security each, are stepping out of Donovan’s gates on Thursday and Friday this week. At services yesterday, each man was able to share with the rest of us. Both of them, in their own way, are articulate, kind and generous. They took turns encouraging the other men, saying that their turn will come, as long as they stay deeply committed to the journey of transformation. One spoke of the incredible challenge of being denied parole by the Parole Board last year. [Some men respond to the subsequent depression by falling back in old ways.] Despite that blow, he stayed positive and continued building his character and, on Thursday, thanks to those efforts, he’s stepping out of the gates. The men spoke about their commitment to God and their respective dreams to create a positive impact in the world.

Both men will soon be on the journey to relearn living outside.   Actually, in some ways, they are integrating society for the first time. The men they are today are the not the men who were locked up. Two and a half decades ago, these men were broken, deeply hurt and had deeply hurt others. Violence was their mode of communication. Today, they come out, healed from the pain caused to them and with the remorse for the pain they caused. Few changes are as profound as finding that self-forgiveness and healing past hurt. The values, consciousness, humanity and love of these men are profound.

This reminds me of a man I met at Marion Correctional last December, who was actually the subject of the Invisibilia “Personality Myth” episode. He says that he has “come to terms that I’m kind of in prison now for someone else’s crime.” Let’s be clear, he does NOT mean that he does not take full responsibility for the acts he committed. He does say “I’ve become a completely different human being at this point, at a cellular level; let alone at the personality level or at a mental level.”

These men are a testament to the profound change possible for all of us. It takes a trigger that creates the motivation for change and then ongoing, constant, strong determination to create another future. Yes, it’s easier to think that people don’t change. But, as the experts discuss in the Invisibilia episode, people do change. We change constantly. And, now that these two men have changed and are coming out this week, they will finally be able to have the impact on the world they’ve been dreaming to create.

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