Journal Entry: Melinda Bixler-10/24/2023-The Power of Light

Journal Entry

The Power of Light:

I missed writing for four days. Last Thursday, I returned from work, flipped on the light switch and nothing happened, no lights. We were in the dark, literally. It wasn’t the first time, but the previous times lasted only a few hours. Thursday’s loss was different. It was Monday when we had light again. In a cell with one 3-inch wide window that’s covered by a steel grate, not much natural light gets in. When we occasionally lose power at home, we grab a flashlight, a few candles or even better, we flip the breaker switch and wah-lah – problem solved.

My cell is the only remotely private place here. Living in darkness for four days, surrounded by cold colorless concrete gave me a sample of what a dungeon must be like. Thank God I was born in the twentieth century because dungeon life is not for me. I rarely eat food from the prison’s kitchen. (That’s an entirely different story that maybe I’ll circle back to someday.) I rely almost solely on what I can purchase from commissary. I’m pretty sure I’ll never eat Ramen again after I leave. Nothing against Ramen, I’m quite grateful for its inexpensive easy to make noodles. Like most things, having them every day gets old after a while. The point is, living in complete darkness is tricky, and judging by the bruises on my legs, it’s quite dangerous too. The upside is that I lived to tell about it (haha).

It’s amazing to experience all the ways God provides us with teachable moments, learning opportunities. Loss of light was no exception. It tested my adaptability. What I missed most during those four days was being able to read and journal. We have a “common area” here, but it’s really loud and filled with constant distractions. It serves as the hub of our unit, our dining area with a few TVs, showers and phones.

Writing has become such a valuable part of my life. Before discovering Michael Santos, 99% of writing was a necessity. I rarely wrote at all. For most American’s computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones revolutionized communication. In the free world, my fingers do the work, not my pencil. This is good ole’ fashioned grass roots living, a yellow legal pad with a #2 pencil.

Losing light reinforced my gratitude for it. Besides seeing what condition my hair is in or whether I have Ramen spices in my teeth, preparing food, making instant coffee and getting ready are much easier, faster and cleaner with light. I’ve resumed reading an inspiring book and putting my thoughts on paper. I’ve regained some peace and a means of connecting to the outside world. Some readers may wonder why I’d waste pencil lead rambling about lights. The meaning is so much bigger, that’s why.

“Our role in life is to bring light of our own souls to the dim places around us.”

–Joan Chittister