Tuesday, March 17, 2009


March 16, 2009 note
The other day, when I sifted through a pile of junk on my desk, I found an old note to Sarah from Jenny. They were probably in Jr High when the note passed under the desk from one hand to the other. There are little stick figures and hearts drawn around the perimeter of the words. I let my head drift for just a moment to what a note between the two of them might say if it were written today. First of all, it would need a stamp, and the post office would reject it because it was not rectangular nor was it flat. It was instead folded into itself in the shape of a triangle. Last week I taught a couple girls how to fold paper like that, then hold it with one point on the table and another under the fingertip. I showed them, rather unsuccessfully, how to flick the middle finger on the other hand and send the "football" flying. These are the things I learned in Detention when I was a kid. Jenny's note to Sarah would still sound like Jenny, so kind and positive and flattering. She'd probably write something like; "Hey there Mama Doctor! How cute did you look today in your pony tail and white coat?" She'd use her chunky curly handwriting in the salutation, but by the end when she is running out of time because the baby is screaming to be fed so she will resort to cursive. I have no doubt that if Jenny and Sarah meet up again there will still be the same sweetness between them.
When I served in the Davis County Jail notes were not called notes. They were known as "kites" and they were illegal. Inmates could get time added for passing kites, but they did anyway. Sometimes I just looked away when I saw one being passed while I stood in the front of the room, flipping through the pages of a book. Every Wednesday night and Sunday morning for three years I walked through the series of thick metal doors into that sterile facility so I could talk about Jesus to the women inmates. It was such a great gig! It was so great partly because every Wed night and Sunday morning I also got to walk back out those doors into the fresh Farmington air and drive home. I understood that there, but for the grace of God, went I and every one of us, and I loved those ladies. In the three years I served there I saw ladies come in and go out of that facility multiple times. "Welcome to Relief Society, Sister. My name is Cori...oh, hey there Tanya, good to see you again." At 6:45 a Sherriff's deputy would tap on the window at the guard station in the Charlie/Delta/Echo pod and ask if anyone wanted to go to Relief Society. The women would line up in their bright orange "outfits", some of them pushing in front of others with their shoulders, their eyes avoiding direct contact. Someone would curse and a guard would grunt and the cluster that had formed would shift back into a line. Seventeen women were allowed to attend at once, since we met in the small Jail Library. Some of them came only because we met near the men's pod. Inevitably by 7:00 the small window at Alpha/Bravo was steamed over with testosterone and whiskers, the males of the species preening and gawking through the thick tempered glass. Sometimes our new arrivals would come in shaking from withdrawal. The more seasoned inmates would have their blue paper books of scripture with them. It was a random recipe of people gathered there, and I learned to love all of them. I know of one, out of all those women who passed through the door to the library, who successfully pulled her life out of the shackles around her legs and bound herself to goodness. Not the best record. She makes my heart swell when I see her, or get a funny email message from her. If we were in Jr High I would pass her a note. It would be written in pink ink and it would say this:
"Dear Jan- I heart you! "


  1. I loved this post, as I can relate to it so much after working four"ish" years with the youth in a Juvenile Corrections Facility. My job was to counsel, but I saw their faces light up each week when the "LDS" volunteers came and gave them a break from their reality for a bit. My inmates wore green, but I loved them as well.
    Now, my Dad gets to serve as you once did, and would rather be nowhere else. We pray for the inmates every Sunday over Dinner, and my Dad is invested with his whole heart.
    They deserve people like you and my Dad...people who love them.

  2. I just love Notes...and even the "new notes" a.k.a. comments on blogs. I'm so glad there is you in this world. Makes it SUCH a better place for us ALL.