Where This Will Take Us
Prison Service Officer,
Counselor at the Detention Centre in Szczecin
Translation by Philip Stoeckle
We’ve been meditating for a year now. We meditate — that is, a small community room of the A/1 Unit of the Detention CEntre in Szczecin.
We, a group of several inmates, Paulina — the group leader from the WCCM — and a counselor of the A/1 Unit.
How did it go in the beginning? Hard work. First it was a curiosity. Then the minutes stretched to infinity. Later it turned out that the seconds seem to have no end.
Today is a special point in the calendar, from Tuesday to Tuesday, from silence to silence. Strange. Silence… in the prison is impossible: the rattle of bars, the clatter of hammers, the sound of the radio, the strike of door bolts, the immortal sound of a key in the lock.
Yet in the heart it is.
So how can you write that it’s a pretty cool thing to meditate in prison?
Let’s say pretty cool, since we’ve been coming here regularly for a year now, and when some meeting can’t be held, we feel the lack.
Until recently, our common room was a cell.
When in prison it’s not easy to forget that you are interned, but this cell has become our refuge. We no longer wander the corridors along Kaszubska Street searing for an empty room. Every Tuesday in the very same place, we create a really special atmosphere. We spread out mats that help everyone feel that this is his place on the floor; lay down pillows that relieve the burdens of our everyday life; we rest our spines suffering from the tests of time; and we place a candle on a prison stool. We believe that the flickering flame will brighten the path forward to the wandering. We look forward to the gong — it resonates a sacred space for us in daily life.
What else creates this unforgettable Tuesday climate? Maybe the weekly search for matches, which is nothing but a symbol of our search for light. And adorn the words between sessions of what is in us. How differently tasks are solved and how one talks about himself, after a session of mindfulness and immersing in the repetition of a mantra. Sometimes we ask ourselves questions that have long been hurled through the bars, and only through inner freedom do we have the courage to look for the answers.
We painted a poster as part of the tasks after the first month of meditation. Paulina was horrified — the same crosses, graves, the path downwards, and a lot of question marks. One year onward, we gave such answers to the questions of what meditation is for us: