Written by Steven Liechty
"For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise people who are prisoners." - Psalm 69:33
I was listening to a friend describe his work volunteering at a local jail, where he meets one on one with inmates. When he talked about what the inmates needed most from him, I was surprised to hear him say that it was privacy.
He was able to offer them some time alone in a room with another human being, who wasn't a lawyer. No offense here to the lawyers. It's just that this volunteer met with the inmates in the same private room they would use to meet with a lawyer. A jail is a public place, where everyone is being watched at all times, for pretty practical reasons. Eating, family visits, worship services all take place with other people around, but not these visits with the volunteer.
Before hearing about it, I had pictured him being a wise listening ear and a counselor. But he was more modest. He felt that the most valuable service he offered was a little privacy to have a one-on-one conversation.
There are a lot of lonely people in the world, in search of community. But there are also people who are desperate for private time with one other person.
Maybe that's you.
Dear God, help me to hear the needs of your people, and to remember the power of a quiet conversation. Amen.
Lillian Daniel, author of When "Spiritual But Not Religious" is Not Enough, has a chapter in the new anthology, What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most. Follow her on twitter @lillianfdaniel.