“Madrone, is there any way I could get a copy of Fleet’s book? I don’t have any money, but it would mean the world to me,” he said. I had forgotten time and time again.
So, I did what any of us would have done at that moment, I grabbed two books, one for the woman whose letter I held in my hands from a prison somewhere in the middle of Utah, addressed the book-sized manila envelope, stamped it, put the book in, dropped it on the outgoing box and then took the other one for Fleet Maull to sign, during which I went and searched my notes for Dennis’ address.
There it was, scribbled in the top right corner of my yellow notebook paper. I sent it off, wishing him an easeful summer (our regular programs do not run during the summer, though we are running an advanced class starting next week).
Just like me, I’m sure you would have been surprised when you came into work that next week to find a letter sitting on your desk:
Prison Dharma Network
South Angell St
When I looked up in the left-hand corner, it was from Dennis. And it wasn’t just a simple “Thank you” letter – it was one of the most uplifting combinations of words I’ve read in quite a while..this coming from someone living in prison:
“…Well, finally spring has sprung and I’m enjoying the warm sunny days and all the gifts that God has blessed me with. I’m so thankful for everything in my life. You didn’t have to send me Fleet’s book, it made me feel so good inside that my eyes started to water, I knew someone had thought of me….”
It graced my heart to read his words and hear such gratitude – this coming from someone locked up. It made me reflect on the countless little things in life that I can constantly find a reason to complain about: “… there are too many bugs, I wish I had more pairs of earrings to match my clothes, I don’t want salmon, I want chicken for lunch today, I don’t feel like driving to the post office…blah blah blah. As I’m sure many of us can relate to, our complaints can be endless. Or, we can try to put our lives in context and recognize the tremendous privilege and opportunity many of us have every single day of our lives.
After reading Denis’ letter, I was reminded of what we all have and so many don’t. I was reminded that our attitude in any situation is always a choice. That’s today. Right now.
We’ll see about tomorrow…
Until next time,
(Post updated from original 2013 posting.)