As the coronavirus pandemic entered its fourth week, I was feeling signs of “cabin fever” and perhaps engaging in a little pity party for myself. Then I received a letter from a friend named Randy who is currently incarcerated in a Michigan prison. Randy is used to being in “isolation” and practicing “social distancing.” Every day he spends 21 hours in a cell which measures six-by-eight feet.
In his letter Randy writes, “I am in my cell 21 hours each day, all by myself and not knowing what my future holds. I try to keep my mind busy with studying God’s words and doing Bible studies. I also am reading novels whenever someone has one to share. (There is no library or book cart here.) I read to keep my mind off the loneliness and the isolation. I also write letters to my friends and search for what I can say to them; for, in my little 6’ x 8’ cell, there’s nothing but the same things day in and day out.
“The only time I have contact with others is during mealtime, and we do get 30 minutes of outdoor time once a week and on weekends. Last week a young man in his twenties killed himself by jumping off the third-floor balcony; he couldn’t deal with being locked away from everyone each day. Isolation and fear can weaken a person’s mind—especially when he feels there’s no hope in sight.
I pray for all the people with this coronavirus going around the world. May the good Lord be with us all.”
Randy closes his letter with, “If anyone would like to write to me, I’d be happy to answer their letters! We all need to have someone in our lives! God Bless.”
(Randy Simpson 387204, Charles Egler Facility, 3855 Cooper St., Jackson, MI 49201-7547)
After reading Randy’s letter, I looked around and saw all the open spaces that Larry and I have access to. Randy’s letter reminded me to give thanks for the freedom I have to go outside and walk and breathe in fresh air and notice the daffodils and signs of spring.
I think to myself, “I am spoiled.” If Randy can stay positive while confined to a 6’x8’ home, then I need to put on a shelf all my present grumblings about the inconvenience of social distancing. Perhaps I should follow Randy’s example and, like him, spend more time studying God’s word, writing letters and praying.
Thanks, Randy, for teaching me a better way to be.