“PRISON, PART 3” by Tony Casson

“….let God transform you into a new person
by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:2 NLT

“If we face our tasks with the resolution to solve them,
who shall say that anything is impossible?” Wilfred Grenfell

The Month of March will soon step aside to make way for its replacement. For many, April 1st will be a day full of the usual array of “April Fools” jokes and pranks. For myself, the first day of April will mark the beginning of my fourth, and final, full year in prison.

As I prepare to close the door on my FIRST three years at Oakdale, I find it interesting, if not disturbing, that – with only one exception – there exists no single three-year period in my past that I would NOT relive with major changes if given the opportunity to do so. The exception? These last three here in Oakdale.

That may be a difficult concept for many to accept or understand, but I have USED those three years to the best of my ability. I believe that I have, also to the best of my ability, asked God to guide my steps and determine my path, and I have made a discovery of extraordinary importance: I have found the person within me that I was looking for all of my life. I have discovered that by letting God IN, I could force all of the things that I hated about myself OUT.

During those three years soon coming to a close, I have written numerous articles and made many observations for these Chronicles. I am no Hemmingway, that is for certain. There will be no Pulitzer Prize for me. But I know that the work contained here is honest, and I have always tried to open the eyes of those who have honored me by reading my words, and those of a few friends who have willingly ‘put themselves out there’.

With the help of my Son, Anthony; my brother-in-law, Larry; and my own personal Angel sent from God, Diane, who began as a sympathetic friend of my sister but now is a friend of MINE – through all of their efforts I will forever have a way to look back and know that I worked hard to do something meaningful.

But these Chronicles are not the only, nor the greatest, personal achievement while here; my ‘special Angel’ has helped me with another project that is nearing completion: The writing of “Today is….A Gift From God”. When finished, “Today Is….” will contain 366 different daily devotionals intended to bring others closer to God, help them through each day, and to provide a source of hope and purpose for each day that God gives us on this earth. There are other projects as well – both in their development stages as well as those set to begin in the future – that are all a part of the future and the hope that God has promised me.

I can ‘wish’ all I want that the changes that have come over me would have taken place elsewhere, but they didn’t. THIS is where God wanted me to be in order that I might learn to be who HE wanted me to be. I’m not there yet, but I keep moving forward, and I would not trade these last three years for anything, nor would I change any single day IN those three years.

I do NOT recommend this environment for everyone. It IS, after all, prison. Best to learn the lessons one needs to learn while surrounded by those who love you and breathing the air of the free.

But as for ME?

Well….I have no complaints at all. I am thankful to all who have given me their time, their friendship, their love, support, and insight.

And I humbly thank God. Amen.

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