Wednesday, 28 April 2010

It All Comes To Roost

Fingers was a deep thinking young man of that I had no doubt “step lightly go easy” came to my mind. He was to in Her Majesty’s keeping for a few years. He had been caught stealing a wallet at a football match, not because he had lost his touch but because somebody had reported he was going to the match with this intention. He was watched closely on CCTV and filmed in the act. He knew he had to be where he was, if you do the crime you do the time, he knew the score.

Nevertheless he had been betrayed by one he considered a friend and he was hurting deeply and it would not be a simple matter to win his trust. We talked often but not every time I visited. One of the days we were he said to me, “I notice you still bring your wallet into my cell.” “Why would I not?” I replied, “You have done nothing to make me not trust you. If and when you do I will act accordingly.”

Another day he commented on the fact that I was different from most padres he had met. I did not “bible thump him,” he said. “If you have the need to speak of that we can,” I answered. He said he had many questions and needed something but he sure did not believe in a God. He and I began to look at some of the eastern philosophies together. This was new to me so we were on the adventure together.

Some time after the key incident I spoke to him about it again. I asked if he had always been able to do this, to look at something and reproduce it from memory. He could not remember how long he had been able to. “Have you ever thought of putting that talent to good use?” I asked. “What? Making keys,” he said. “Have you ever thought of making models?” I enquired. It turns out he had been absent from school more than at it in his youth so the possibilities of art had slipped him by.

I was given permission by the governor to bring him in some clay. My youth club had clay and did some pottery work so it was not difficult for me to make this possible. It was agreed so the second journey began.

A warrior was captured and thrown into jail. That night he lay in fear sure that the next day he would be interrogated, tortured and executed. As he lay there he remembered the words of his Zen master. “Tomorrow is not real it is an illusion, the only reality is the now. Make the most of the moment.” Heeding these words the warrior fell into a deep and restful sleep. The next day he awoke to find that his own army had captured the prison and he was free.

Make the most of every moment, This is the way of the Tao.

This blog is linked to my other where the artwork used is discussed:-     Coming Home to Roost


  1. Pleased to hear you are not a 'Bible Thumper' Ralph. I am fortunate enough to have a lovely young Priest who is also not a Bible Thumper. He is more of a walk that talk guy. It always sounds so easy to stay in the NOW and yet so hard to practice. Children do it so brilliantly - I learn so much from observing my daughter. If I could only do it, it would save me more than a few grey hairs. I am just catching up on all my Blogging friends now. It has been a very busy time. Hope you are well. Enjoy your day! xx

  2. You have met some interesting characters along the way. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

    I just wonder what wonderful things Fingers will make with this clay?

  3. I read the Tao Te Ching a few years ago, and have tried to live by its core principles ever since. I find that the teachings of the Tao seem to be riddled with paradoxes, and I find some things very difficult to understand at the moment. Stories that echo the Taoists principles make things clearer, and your writing seems to achieve this quite effortlessly, especially in regards to human creativity and art. I guess it would be contradictory to agonise over the intricacies of its teachings, considering the principle of wu-wei. Many people depend on stories like these for a proper understanding. I am curious to see your paintings now, and will definately start following your other blog

  4. Oh please do not say the story of Fingers is finished now, is it?

  5. Ralph, I have always wanted to help people in prison...but, (there is always a but, isn't there)...there are only so many hours in a day and I have never been able to fit it in. It seems like it would be a big commitment and of course, being a female, I have always also been a little leary of being too exposed to criminals who might get out and hit me over the head (lol). Still. I very much admire people like you who will go into a prison and offer help and friendship to people who need so much to be appreciated. I can not imagine what it must be like to be locked up like that...and to think "no one cares". I am glad you helped this man. Everyone needs a guiding father--you were his for that short time. :)

  6. Ralph, you certainly have u hooked now! Did you ever give it a thought that you were BOTH in prison?, especially in this "here and now" sense that you are so graciously teaching us. We do create our own prisons, our limitations, our boundaries, with the sense of order and comfort they give us. Recividism may not be the mark of a hardened criminal, but the desire to "go home"
    where we may get three decent meals, a place to sleep and a comforting routine! When these become our goals OUT of prison we exchange comfort for freedom every day! love to hear you blog on this, after the "fingers" story!

  7. OK Jerry that is indeed a promise to you.

  8. I love this story..hope there is more to it!