So J. is back in prison again. He violated one of his conditions and his freedom was removed. What do we do with him? After all, he has been in and out of prison a few times over the years. Maybe we should just throw away the key? It seems like a nice neat solution. In reality it is not. When you throw away the key, you throw away hope. In the 14th century Dante Alighieri wrote an epic poem about what heaven and hell were like. Above the gates of hell he suggested these words were chiselled, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”. Interesting. Humankind has for centuries understood that life without hope truly is a dark place.
From its earliest beginnings Open Circle has understood that hope is central to helping individuals change their lives, and offering practical grace is the foundation for nurturing hope. Without it change will not happen. So in the days, weeks, and months to come we will continue to extend grace to J. as Open Circle staff visit, as his volunteer visitor visits, and as we help him plan for his next release.