I am about to tell you about an experience I had two days ago. It is not to toot my own horn, but because it changed me in rather profound ways. Maybe it will bless your life too.
A friend of mine, who works for the Ladies Correctional Facility in Pocatello, Idaho asked that I come to speak about my new book, They Said I Would Die, and sing to the ladies there. I referred to this last week as a "private event" since I was not certain if they would frown on my sharing publicly. Now that it is after-the-fact, I learned it is fine to share.
First of all, let me tell you—this is prison—in every sense of the word. Double lock-down doors, guards, razor wire, the whole nine yards. There are 350 inmates currently housed there. A smaller group of them live just outside the fenced area in the "work-release" program. In order for them to attend anything within the walls of the prison, they must submit to strip search. I was rather shocked to learn that 7 of them sacrificed their dignity to attend and listen to ME! Wow. I am still floored by their sacrifice!
Just before I was to perform and speak, I mentioned to my friend that I was quite nervous. Her assumption was that I was worried about the women I would be sharing space with—many whose records are rather unsavory. But that was not my concern.
I told her I was worried about whether or not I would be able to LIFT them from where they are, to a higher place. I wanted to leave them motivated, inspired and energized.
I spent some time telling them about me—working to attempt a connection with each. If I could not relate to them on some level I would fail.
I told them of many opposites in my life; marriage/divorce/remarriage, being in control/and out, feeling ugly/and beautiful, the birth of my 5 children/burying 2 of them, good decisions/and bad...things like this.
After speaking for a few minutes, I introduced the first song and began singing. Several people teared up, some openly wept. It went on like this for over an hour.
I have been touched on a level I did not expect. I came away knowing I had been a part of something very profound. Not only had I had touched other's in a powerful way, I was moved with such a deep sense of compassion that I doubt I will every be the same.
Humility fills me. I hope that I get to repeat this experience on many levels, and in many different groups.