Grace and Generosity, Part 2

Photo: Miriam Pepper,  KC Star Cell where peace activists held

Photo: Miriam Pepper,
KC Star
Cell where peace activists held

Tuesday, March 11

By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

—1 Corinthians 12:26–27

The city charged us with criminal trespass for protesting at the nuclear weapons plant. My home for the next few hours was a concrete-and-steel jail cell in downtown Kansas City. I sat on a graffiti-covered metal bench to gather my thoughts. I noticed someone had scratched “MAMA” in the blue paint. I saw it as a lonely, regretful cry for help.

“How much is your bail?” an inmate asked. “One hundred dollars,” I answered. “That’s nothing! Do you have someone to pay it?” I had faith in my family support and companion protesters from PeaceWorks—KC. However, I felt the other women in the cell might be alone in their troubles. As I got to know them, it was worse than I had imagined.

When “Stacey” learned I was a minister, she immediately asked, “Will you pray for me?” We prayed together as she cried. I found that poverty was at the root of her crime. She had broken her probation because she couldn’t pay the fine for bad checks she had written for groceries. “I was in hiding. My boyfriend found me and beat me up. The police arrested me—not my boyfriend—because of the warrant on me…I miss my kids.”

“Flo” was homeless and had been drinking. As I started to walk around the cell to stretch my legs, she followed me. I did a few arm-swinging exercises. She did the same. Soon, everyone joined in, and we had an aerobics class going on. They simply longed for a little direction, a break from boredom and hopelessness, if only for a few hours.

One woman, locked in a separate cell, moaned and yelled continually. “She’s violent,” Stephanie said. I started to sing, and the woman became quiet. Then Stacey, Stephanie, Flo, and Mary started singing, too. Flo asked, “Do you know Swing Low, Sweet Chariot?”

“Sure do.” And so all of us sang. The atmosphere started to get a little sad, so to cheer them up, I started to sing alternate words: “Swing low, sweet Cadillac…a brand new El Dorado comin’ after me…” Everyone laughed. The officers had not responded to the cries of the woman and her calls for help, but one did come when he heard us laughing. Interesting!

When they came to release me, everyone started crying again, so we had another prayer. They had surely blessed me with their sincerity and genuine emotions. They taught me about gratitude and humility. I think of my cell mates often and pray they open themselves to receive comfort from the Holy Spirit. I pray they have someone to lead them in dance, song, and prayer; someone to call friend; and yes…someone to pay their bail.

Prayer for Peace
Open our hearts, God, that we may include the lost and lonely in our prayers for peace.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
Let your mind be drawn to places where people have no homes. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Offer a prayer for those who suffer.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will help a lost soul find the way to Christ’s peace.

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11 Comments

  1. Thanks, Lu, for your blessings to your cell mates and to me. I was especially touched by your prayer to “open themselves to receive comfort from the Holy Spirit.” Wow–that is an action step we all need to take daily.

  2. Lu Mountenay

     /  12 March 2014

    Mary, use how you wish.
    lu

  3. Mary Yocum

     /  11 March 2014

    Lu, may I use this in Peacekeepers?

  4. Of all the wonderful stories that Pam shared with me, this wasn’t one of them. How gracious to be the embodiment of love and family for your other sisters wherever you meet them. Thank you Lu!

  5. Karen

     /  11 March 2014

    Thank you for sharing your experience in jail with your Daily Bread readers. I am so touched by your testimony that I am teary eyed. People imagine prisoners as being tough, dangerous but you’ve shown us all a vulnerable side, children of God only wanting to be loved. That’s very important. Thank you again. Wishing you many blessings for the day.

  6. Marlene Krueger

     /  11 March 2014

    Lu, I think I heard you tell your story at Walnut Gardens one Sunday when we were there. It never stops impressing upon me on the Spirit was with you that whole day. It is just like you to minister wherever you are and wherever there is need. That is certainly what you did in the jail. You were a blessing as well as blessed by the women. What a wonderful opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Blessings of love to you.

  7. Dick Hahn

     /  11 March 2014

    Lu, you are a wonder! You were the Evangel to your cell mates, and they sensed it. You secularized the language you used to a large extent. So many in our world today find religious words empty, so we must speak what others can understand and identify with, and you did that. Too often we use language meaningful to us, but is just “jibberish” to others. You made The Word flesh for your cellmates. Blessings upon you for sharing your gifts in the midst of your own pain. You are an evangelist par excellence!

  8. Carole Heathers

     /  11 March 2014

    Thank you Lu for sharing you experience this morning. I have read it before but it still made me cry. What a wonderful example of love and acceptance!
    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  9. Vicki Mason

     /  11 March 2014

    Thank you Lu for your courage and grace. You are truly showing us the way. This touched me deeply.

  10. Sharon Norris

     /  11 March 2014

    Lu, your testimony is amazing and inspiring…and so are you!!

  11. Barbara Howard

     /  11 March 2014

    Dear Lu, I just wrote you a fan letter, sent it to my lumountenay address and it came back, so I’ll just communicate with DB. This is a marvelous piece of work. Your writing is spectacular, and you are a blessing beyond words. I am so grateful you are in my life, dear one. What can I do to help you in your journey? You are one of the spiritual guides in my own journey. I am sincere in my question? Where can I be a blessing to you?

    >________________________________ > From: Daily Bread >To: barbarafaye01@att.net >Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 1:05 AM >Subject: [New post] Grace and Generosity, Part 2 > > > > WordPress.com >dailybreaddiscipline posted: ” Tuesday, March 11 By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. —1 Corin” >

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