Reflections on Isaiah 35

Here’s a re-working of Isaiah 35, done by Cheryl Lawrie and a group of inmates at Port Phillip Prison in Australia.

Lawrie writes:  Advent can seem a bit redundant in the prison – how much more waiting can we expect a group of people do? – so we’re spending it getting ready for the christmas day service. On Thursday we talked through Isaiah 35 and reworked it together with new images for this time and place. It was a really lovely exercise. We shared our mutual distaste for cheap hope, but acknowledged we couldn’t live without there being a story of possibility. We told stories of fear and desperation, longing and even joy. We laughed a lot, and I got the sense we all went away feeling a bit more human. The italics below are created from the conversation with the men. The other words are lifted from Isaiah 35.

fear, joy and longing in the prison
(Isaiah 35)

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
Life will be lived as it’s meant to be lived
everyone will be valued
everyone will know they are loved.

We shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands
and make firm the feeble heart,
‘Be strong and do not fear!
Here is your God.
Know you have what it takes
to live through this.
Know you can find the will to get over it’.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened
The sick will be well
The elderly will be loved
The children will be safe
The prisoner will be remembered.

For waters break forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert;
The justice system becomes just
Governments stop being corrupt
People in Somalia and Africa have food to eat
Those who have nowhere to go find somewhere to live.

A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
and on this highway
everyone will be welcome
even those who we hate
and those who hate us.
We will be welcome too.

Together, we shall obtain joy and gladness
and sorry and sighing shall flee away.

— written by Cheryl Lawrie, Director for Spirituality, Culture and Context in the Uniting Church in Australia.  Posted on her website [hold this space].