It seems a bit odd to speak of death and empowerment in the same breath, especially in a class at the women’s medium security prison. But that is precisely how things went today. During the check in, I learned that a student in our class last spring (who everyone in the current class knew) had recently passed away. To complicate matters, there was general agreement among the women that “Cindy” did not receive the medical attention and care that she had needed at the time. Needless to say her recent death gave rise to a range of emotions in the room– anger, fear, sadness and grief– just as we were about to dive into today’s material: Empowerment.
Taking a pause to allow the women to reflect on what they loved most about Cindy, I was struck by how their description of her looked a lot like the list of The 12 Choices of an Empowered Person in the Path of Freedom Workbook. They talked about her refusing to make assumptions about others (“Unhook from Drama”), reaching out to others with kindness (“Generosity”), not gossiping (“Integrity”), always looking at the bright side (“Living Possibility”), dancing in the laundry room (“Appreciation”).
Cindy also had her struggles to be sure– I know she struggled with addiction at the very least and while I have no idea what her conviction was, I’m sure it wasn’t pretty. Nevertheless it was beautiful to listen as her memory was shared in a way that reflected not only her light, but also the power and possibility for each of us to live with that same kind of light, whether we’re in prison– or not.
Cindy, may you rest in peace…
And may we all be safe, happy, healthy…
May we feel empowered by our choices.
May we (and all beings) live with ease.