Sarah Alarcon shares her story.
Truth be told, I thought I knew what I was doing when preparing to leave for Hilltop Prison for a God in Human Form performance.
“Sarah, is it ok if I wear shorts?” My brother asks.
“Yeah, I don’t see why not.”
I thought I was a seasoned prison-attendee, like I knew everything about doing the prison thing since I had been to a grand total of two other God in Human Form programs in Lockhart. Ha! Think again! We arrive and as soon as a guard sees my brother, they are all over it. No shorts allowed. So Nathalie and Cody run to Wal-Mart to get a pair of the tightest, most unattractive pants Cody will never wear again. This makes our team uncomfortable. What if they don’t make it back in time? Nathalie is our emcee and Cody and I are supposed to lead the women in songs together. I don’t want to do it alone!
We aren’t in Kansas anymore. This is prison. Where I can’t do whatever I want.
I feel like a fool. Wearing shorts that go below the knee didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but what I think doesn’t matter. I can’t stand being in prison for five minutes, and can’t imagine what it’s like to be here for years! We aren’t even inside yet!
It is my brother’s first time, so I want him to have a positive experience. But I didn’t know I didn’t have to worry about it. Cody reminds me that women in prison are the most hungry to hear our gifts. He always teaches me. Cody is a natural storyteller. He doesn’t try to be funny, he just is. He told a story about how he and his friend ran into a homeless couple at a gas station on their way back to school. The women laugh and shake their heads in agreement when Cody describes his friend as part “sweet lady ” and part “dragon lady.” Us women understand how we ooze sweetness and breathe fire at the same time. During his story, he sings the song. “They Just Keep Moving the Line” to illustrate how the couple had had a lot of really bad luck, which lead them to where they were, needing a ride to a travel station so they could get to their destination. Cody belongs on stage. Even if he’s nervous he looks and sounds comfortable. I get to watch my little brother do what he does best. I get to hear him sing. Oh lord, those women loved hearing him sing! Cody’s story reminds us how alike we are. The homeless person, or woman in prison could have easily been me, whether attributed to bad luck, or a mistake.
We’re all the same, just trying to get through.
I share a poem I wrote after a friend of mine passed away last year. It meant a lot for my brother to be there because he had read it before, but hadn’t heard it out loud. One of my commandments is to “Love everyone as much as you love your little brother.” And in response to knowing how difficult that is, the next line is, “Try.” I get to look at Cody when I say this line I wrote with him in mind.
Going to prison is an amazing experience. So much so, that the word “experience” sounds cliché. It is incredibly spiritual and fulfilling to be surrounded by such abundant love. Sharing your gifts and helping the women realize there is no difference between us, and to help them try to better themselves so they will be prepared for life after prison is a tremendous blessing.
I suggest that everyone goes to prison…you know what I mean.
***GIHF (God in Human Form) is the only program that TBT (Truth Be Told) offers that is a performance. We have found that holidays are a lonely and difficult time for women in prison, so this creative and inspirational program is offered to the general population to evoke inspiration, encouragement and laughter. TBT is a service organization, based on Spiritual principles, offering tools of Creativity, Communication, and Community building in all our programs. We encourage the 12-step idea of seeking/acknowledging a Higher Power of one’s choice. In this program, we do a creative exploration of the ancient idea of “Gods” appearing in the form of human beings. We invite performing artists to share their experience through their art form of “meeting God” in another human being or experience, or they themselves being “God with skin on” to someone else through their actions which turned out to be inspiring or healing.***