A Truth Be Told Graduation

Today’s post is written by Holly Hurban, Truth Be Told Board Member

truthIt wasn’t until I had to turn over my keys that I felt the impact of being at Lockhart Prison.  I was there to volunteer as a Respectful Witness for the Spring 2013 Graduation of the Talk to Me participants.  Without my keys, a sudden rush of panic almost overcame me.  For this afternoon, while I was visiting Lockhart Prison, I would not have access to my car or my house.  Logically, I knew the graduation would be over in a few hours, my life would move forward, and I would drive home later that day, quite unlike the women I was there to support.  But emotionally, it was as if the things that represented my freedom and my safe place were suddenly gone.  This would likely be the only sliver of understanding I would have regarding what it might be like to be incarcerated.  Almost every piece of choice and refuge is just absent.

In fact, this moment of a remote, gut-level understanding of incarceration is probably not even close to what the experience really is.  Nevertheless, I was there to be present with these brave women as they told their stories. There is a term used in southern Africa called “Sawubona.” It literally translates to the phrase “I see you,” and it is used as a reverent way to greet someone.  That day at Lockhart Prison, I listened to these women I’d never met, and I saw them.  I truly saw them, and they were good and whole and beautiful.  Sawubona.  The truth that the woman told about themselves and their lives was one of the most courageous things I have ever witnessed.

As each woman performed or read her story, I started to wonder about my own truth.  A popular comedian named Steven Colbert coined the term “truthiness.”  Truthiness is essentially the outcome of each person’s system of denial.  It isn’t quite the truth, but it is a fluffier, nicer, sparkly version of what may be going on in someone’s life.

I find that most people walk around in this state of “truthiness,” just as I do most of the time, but today, I witnessed courage, creativity and real truth, the kind you see when a person finally surrenders to the God-given reality that they are worthy, they are beautiful, and they are good, regardless of what has happened to them in their life or what their own past regretful behavior may suggest.

Being a Respectful Witness at the TBT Graduation at Lockhart Prison has inspired me to be more authentic, more open, and more truthful.  I left the prison with my keys, got in my car, experienced that freedom, and went home to my safe place. I continue to feel pure gratitude towards those women, and although the women remained inside the prison that day, they were clearly taking the most important steps toward their own literal and personal freedom.

An Invitation for You

Have you ever wanted to attend a Truth Be Told graduation program, and see for yourself the incredible transformative effect of our programs?

You are invited to participate as a compassionate and supportive witness at a presentation and celebration of incarcerated women who have completed Truth Be Told’s TALK TO ME classes at Gatesville’s Hilltop Prison.

November 14, 2013 – Talk to Me Graduation at the Hilltop Unit in Gatesville, TX

November 22, 2013 – Talk to Me Discovery Graduation at the GEO Lockhart Unit

Please RSVP by sending an email to We will then contact you to gather additional information required by the prison for their pre-screening process. Please provide us with your home and cell phone numbers when you RSVP.

We will send an email to those who RSVP with further information about dress code, directions from Waco and Temple to Hilltop prison, and dinner afterward for those who want to attend and debrief.

Today’s post is written by Holly Hurban, Truth Be Told Board Member

6 Responses to A Truth Be Told Graduation

  1. Holly, thank you for your board service and for investing time and energy in Truth Be Told. I enjoyed seeing graduation through your eyes. Yours in truth-telling, Katie

  2. Holly, I appreciate your story so much. As a TBT graduate I know the feelings unknown that you describe here, but I have never thought about the feelings you ( witnesses to our graduation/ volunteers like Carol) may experience. A feeling of constricted breathing came over me as I read about your keys being taken. Your one escape from this scary place guarded by men and walls and fences, filled with people you didn’t know. People who were “incarcerated for a good reason”. Not in judgement do I say this but a knowledge of similar feelings. I am amazed at the lesson I have learned from you, one of deeper appreciation for the women who reached out to me in 2008-2009 and who have reached and are reaching out to ALL the women in these prisons. To say that you ” SAW THEM” struck a chord in me. I truly felt the sincerity of this in your writing. THANK YOU for that. To be seen is so important, to TRULY BE SEEN is a gift. So from my heart I want to say Thank you. Thank you from a formerly incarcerated woman, a TBT Graduate , a woman who strives to live by TBT principles and a woman who is still growing up. Your words were clear and heartwarming. I am grateful for you.

  3. ONE MORE IMPORTANT NOTE! I said that TBT reached out to me in 2008-2009 I should have said found the reaching arms of TBT in 2008 and have been in their embrace ever since!

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