January Ramblings

Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is staffed most weekdays from 7:00am until 4:00pm by a Camp Officer, a Case Manager, a Counselor, and a Secretary. After 29 months here, I'm not exactly sure what any of these people do. I do know that the Counselor retired this month. Until then, all these positions were oddly held by women. The new Counselor is a man who is apparently a huge Virginia Tech fan, as he has the school's logo on his door and his name in matching orange and maroon. Typically, within the Bureau of Prisons, this doesn't mean he graduated from this esteemed institution of higher learning. Maybe he attended a football game or drove through the campus once. Maybe he can identify Blacksburg on a map. To find out the extent of the VT connection, I would have to initiate a conversation I have no intention of starting. But if the opportunity arises I may ask, because Blacksburg, VA, is one of my favorite towns. Thomas Merton writes in The Seeds of Contemplation that God is infinitely more than what we can see, hear or imagine. So to find God, we must enter into darkness, silence, and obscurity. We can't begin to know God without being transformed into a God-like representation. "Faith is the first step in this transformation because it is a cognition that knows without images and representations by a loving identification with the living God in obscurity." I believe it's the same cognition that the writer of Exodus tried to explain as a bush that burned but was not consumed when Moses encountered the "I Am" at Horeb. For the first few days of this month when the temperature reached the low 20's each night, our housing unit was without heat. The corrections officer responsible for heating and cooling turned off the units. When questioned by the Camp Officer about it, his response was that he had his reasons. Based on the units he's unsuccessfully serviced, failed to repair and caught on fire, simply turning them off was a reasonable and acceptable alternative. There are four HVAC units that heat and cool the camp. Thankfully an anonymous inmate was able to turn on one unit that heated the visitation/TV room which became a very popular place. An early American Christian group called Shakers believed that celibacy was the answer to the consuming temptation, frustration, and confusion of sex. There are now two living Shakers. There's a lesson here.