As we’re nearing the end of 2019 we’re already reflecting on the good that came our way over the past year. We found a beautiful home in a beautiful area in TLH, we formed a devoted band of accompaniers walking with those returning from prison, and we reached our financial goal so we can start expanding our house!
As I reflect on our journey this year much comes to mind. But what most comes to mind is the irreplaceable gift that a loving community can provide for those returning home from prison. I’ve seen up close the harrowing effects incarceration in Florida can have on those warehoused inside it. Nearly all are scarred by this system. For those coming out of prison, nothing compares to the gift of relationships offered by safe folks. And as most of us know, this comes from faithful friends who show-up and make themselves available during critical junctures in our life journey.
My hunch has been all along that this mission would either grow or fade based upon whether or not a community could create a place of belonging. It’s nice to have a good home in a safe area. That’s a big plus. It’s good to network for meaningful jobs. But nothing will create a place of healing and restoration without good folks showing-up when it matters.
I can say God was very generous in sending loving folks our way. This year I’ve witnessed the goodness of folks taking time out of their busy schedules to come and share a meal with us, or help a new resident move in, or help beautify the space by painting, landscaping, cleaning-up the kitchen, or simply playing a game of checkers. These little gestures go a long way in expressing love and acceptance that no program, no job can replace. As we hear from St. James, “The harvest of justice is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.”
Our mission is not so much to organize a community but to become community.
-Fr. Dustin Feddon