As we work alongside those of faith and no faith, this subject has to be viewed from two perspectives. Firstly, the Christian belief of redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus on the Cross, foremost in our thoughts during Eastertide. But also, the secular belief that redemption is possible through a change of behaviour and a reconciliation with life past and present. From both aspects, looking towards a future outside the criminal justice system and the false security of prison. As one prisoner said to me recently, “I’m okay, this is home.”
Both need a vision of hope and reconciliation with acceptance by others that change is possible; this can be a major hurdle with society in general. Our role is to bridge this gap, to bring hope to what can seem like a hopeless situation and an ever-increasing revolving door of crime and sentencing. Whatever our leanings, the position of being a mentor can involve contemplating our own behaviour and past experiences and how we view others, especially those we are asked to be alongside without judgement.
In the 17th. Century the poet and priest George Herbert wrote ‘Redemption’, a sonnet with a tenant who is desperately looking for a new beginning and determined to seek it out. This may well be viewed from the perspective of faith alone, but in the process of searching among life in general, the ‘cities, theatres, gardens, parks and courts,’ he found it unexpectedly where life was on the edge of society, amongst those on the boundaries, where hope shone through and forgiveness was possible.
Our clients often have many traumas to overcome, many false dawns and setbacks on the way, but in seeing them as human beings first and foremost, and in listening to them with empathy, the possibility of change becomes a reality. Colin Morris writes on Faith, Love and Hope with these words: ‘Faith venturing beyond the unprovable, love forgiving the unpardonable, and hope remaining undimmed against all odds.’