Tuesday’s child is full of grace.” For the next three months I am sharing sections from the new book — A Child Laughs — Prayers of Justice and Hope (edited by Maria Mankin and Maren C. Tirabassi) Pilgrim Press, May 1, 2017.)

Two pieces from a powerful chapter about prisons by Stephen G. Price and Barbara Wass Van Ausdell.

Stephen writes this about himself. Stephen G. Price is the pastor of First Baptist Church Hyattsville in Maryland. He and his wife, Carole, have five children and four grandchildren between them. They love to kayak together.
I also know him from prison ministry in many states and systems.

And from Barbara this:Barbara Wass Van Ausdall’s career teaching second language speakers who came to the states escaping injustice, discrimination, and abuse, as well as local students caught in difficult situations, sensitized her to injustices that could not be ignored. She ad- dressed them in class projects and in shared conversations and activities with stu- dents. She continues to do so as a retiree through her music and writings, work as a lay minister, and issues in her own family.


Oh that I could board a bus
Or drive every other weekend when you are allowed visitors
1200 miles – so many miles – imprison me and keep me from your side

I must be content with your collect calls to our landline whenever …
Keeping me close to the phone, so not to I miss a call

Oh that I could be transported to your side
Be with you in your confinement
And comfort you as I did when you fell off of your bike,
Fought with a friend, failed a test, or felt alone

The miles, the rules, the restrictions, the angry responses of fear, of family
Imprison me.


They come every week;
Saturdays mostly,
sometimes Sunday.
They step off the bus that drives them to the gate
or park old cars, often borrowed
from friends or parents
in the lot where toddlers and small children
tumble out of vehicles
like dice from a shaken cup.

Young mothers with babies on breast or hip
sullen teens pulled away from weekends
elderly parents, faces lined with shame.
Inmates come to visit inmates.

if it weren’t for the glass partition
and the regulation dress code,
Just looking at the faces
you couldn’t tell
who will go home when the visiting hours are over
and who will go back to the cell block

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