Today's serendipity. I stumbled across a Native American newsletter that had my name in it. Because my family roots are European, my curiosity was piqued so I decided to check it out.
The newsletter came from the Quinault Nation, a small tribe situated on a southwestern beach of Washington state, and their November newsletter included my article on how to help the bereaved through the holidays. I was really touched!
Years ago when I was an EMT, I responded to a medical call for a teenage boy inside a sweat lodge. The boy lived and I've long forgotten his name, but I've never forgotten my experience inside such a sacred building. It was incredible, and moved me deeply.
Moving forward, it’s been on my bucket list to include a book for prisoners in the Grief Diaries series. I believe that every baby is born with a good and innocent heart, and no child says they want to grow up to live in prison. So what happens in life that results in incarceration? Is it a childhood full of pain and loss, resulting in anger and hatred for others? Or is the prisoner paying the price for finding himself at the wrong place, at the wrong time? Or with the wrong people?
Once the prisoner lands behind bars, what goes through his mind? More anger and hatred? Or fear and hopelessness? How do they survive a life without freedom? How does his family survive?
So here's the serendipity part of my story.
Immediately above my article in the Quinault Nation's newsletter was a short letter titled "Seeking Family." Written by a man named Joe Northup, he had lost contact with his Quinault family members. His address was listed as Oregon State Penitentiary. Now he had my full attention!
In his letter, Joe explained he was diagnosed with leukemia six months ago and now lives in the prison's infirmary.
I’ve never written a letter to someone in prison, but on a whim, I wrote Joe a letter inviting him to answer questions for a book I want to add to the Grief Diaries series: Life Through the Eyes of Prison. Regardless of his answer to my invitation, I told him I will be praying for him.
None of us can know the path of another, and although I have many flaws my children will happily divulge, one of my good qualities is that God gave me a heart full of compassion without judgement.
I'm sharing this with you because I have a favor to ask.
I don't know his circumstances or prognosis, but I believe that a simple Christmas card from a stranger would fill his heart with love.
It might be the only love Joe has ever known.
And his last Christmas.
If you're moved to join my effort to lift the heart of a stranger in need of prayers, below is his address:
Joe Northup #3342821
O.S.P. Infirmary, Bk #3
2605 State Street
Salem, OR 97310-0505