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Sitting in my cell on a hot, humid Kansas day, I often pass the time with a bit of enjoyable spiritual reading. When I read “Altars in the Street,” by Melody Ermachild Chavis, in the June 1997 issue of The Sun, it struck a familiar chord in me. What resonated most was her statement “Trying to change, I used to wonder, Is it possible that this cycle of violence is going to stop with me?”
Having been raised by a physically abusive mother, I used to (and still do) tell myself that I would not treat my or anyone else’s child as my mother had treated me. I harbored great anger, hatred, and resentment toward her for years. Then, upon practicing meditation for a period of time, I forgave her and accepted that she had done the best she could, the only way she knew how. Once I felt compassion for this single mother who acted the way she did because of her great burdens and struggles, my own life became less burdensome, and I became lighter of heart, and filled with peace.
I also identified with Chavis’s self-criticism for not being more diligent in her meditation practice. Yet I find that failure is just part of the process of getting to Truth, and it takes time and hard work to move beyond society’s conditioning. Being locked up for the past ten years has ultimately given me freedom.