I've mentioned here previously that I volunteer at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, which is a minimum-security female facility. Had anyone told me 15 years ago, when I was newly sober, that I would be taking an AA meeting into a prison, I would have been convinced they'd fallen off the wagon.
Like so many things we think we can't, won't, or won't want to do, however, the Alderson gig has been the best thing I've done for my sobriety.
Last night was Alderson's annual Volunteer Recogniton Dinner. I'm not sure how many volunteers serve at Alderson, but about 60 came for the dinner and refresher training. Dinner was nothing special this year; one year we had grilled steaks! But the federal budget being what it is these days, we were served a decidedly lackluster and carb-filled meal. I scraped as much sugary sauce off a slice of ham as I could, accompanied by green beans and salad. I skipped the rolls, mashed potatoes, pasta salad and pie.
But it's not about the food. [I want that to be my mantra for the rest of my life. I will know I've succeeded when I'm not thinking about what to eat next. Or when.]
Alderson has several vocal choirs, and we were entertained – no, we were lifted – before and after the training program by the Praise and Worship Choir, a group of about 20 talented gospel singers. We had no idea we were at a prison, listening to inmates. They were wonderful, inspiring, bold and free, and we who listened were touched beyond words.
Most of the volunteers who work at Alderson serve in the area of Religious Services. [The AA meeting that I take in falls under the Psychology department, and I also teach a beginning drawing class which is part of the Recreation department.] It's sort of traditional at these dinners to have a little gospel sing, and I'm one of the few who fumbles for words to the hymns. But it takes nothing away from my pleasure in the experience.
This is a bit of a ramble this morning, with little to do about weight loss and nothing to do about knitting. It's everything to do with being inspired, though – inspired to be a better person, to give instead of take, to walk with grace through the toughest of times, to learn lessons and a better way of living life. To be grateful.