by Nick Andrea
Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, DE
I am waiting to enter a prison to see my best friend. There are two middle-aged black ladies waiting near me. I strike up a conversation with them and one of them tells me about her son who is high school. He’s an excellent football player and she’s hoping he’ll get a scholarship to a good school with it. (It is his cousin that they are here to visit.)
Sometimes her son’s school plays against Ferris School, a juvenile detention center whose kids can’t see their parents but through a glass or fence. She always reminds him to be grateful for what he has and to be respectful of everyone.
I tell her I went to high school nearby and that my thing was band. I tell her that I do African drumming. She is very inspired by this and asks me more about it, which I gladly explain.
I take several things away from this encounter. First, I come from a middle-class white family, while she comes from a black family that is probably nowhere near as affluent. That we could connect shows me that Spirit is blind to color, race, and economic and social status. We are just two universal human beings sharing lessons and things that are important to us.
My second takeaway was about gratitude. Her son’s cousin is an inmate. Their family is from a race that makes up 30% of the total population and 60% of the prison population (reference here) – at best marginalized and at worst oppressed. Yet, this wise woman is teaching her son gratitude and respect.
If Spirit is the plant then gratitude is the water that makes it grow. No matter who we are, where we are, or what we’re doing, being grateful for it makes life so much better.