A Message from Patrick - 4/8/20
This message was originally located on the About page of this website (April 8, 2020). That section is now replaced by the poem "Invictus," per Patrick's request.
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone supporting me and supporting the efforts of incarcerated people to hold themselves accountable to higher personal standards, to their victims "known and unknown" and to their communities, within and without the prison wall. Your support demonstrates the courageous belief that we are more than our cruelest indifferences and inspires me to continue to fulfill my own potential for the sake of myself and others. So thank you.
I also want to offer some thoughts about the current crisis that I hope will afford a more hopeful perspective. As one of twelve men fortunate enough to be a 2020 MPS candidate at New York Theological Seminary, I have been asked by our professors to consider what we learn from suffering, struggling, and dealing with uncertainty. For the most part, we considered this question based on our unique experiences as incarcerated men. As students we also considered its theological implications, concerning ourselves with how our answers might inform our proposed ministry projects. But in the wake of this pandemic, consideration of our unique backgrounds has given way to pondering the commonality of circumstance we share with society at large from which the most important shared lessons can be observed.
In this circumstance, we recognize that collectively we equally suffer as family, friends and members of our community are exposed, infected and unfortunately sometimes die. We struggle to find meaning in this suffering while contending with growing financial instability and lack of vital support. Uncertainty about when this will end only exacerbates the tension we feel and I can tell you firsthand that if we are not mindful, this is the point at which our frustration can turn inward and even cause us to lash out at those close to us.
It is in the midst of this crisis that we have to be the most self-aware to keep ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally intact. It is the critical juncture at which we have to remember the things we tend to forget during the chaos of daily life.
While we cannot change the circumstances, we can take some time to remember why we should love ourselves and the reasons why we love who we love. You can tell the people you care about what you appreciate most about them instead of taking them for granted. We can also remember those who are experiencing hardships right now, those who have had to see loved ones die in their care or in the hospital, or those who have lost their livelihoods. Do what you can to ease their grief.
We can certainly remember all of the people risking their own health, possibly their lives, to help us heal and to keep us safe. Show them that they are appreciated. And we can remember those we have hurt, even those that might hate us. Think fondly of them and look everywhere for the opportunity to make amends.
In our shared pain, survival is dependent upon recognizing our shared humanity thereby evincing a willingness to support one another even when we ourselves are most vulnerable. It is my belief, for what it is worth, that we will be stronger for it when this time eventually passes.