Growing up through elementary school, I had the privilege of sharing a bedroom with my younger brother Eric. We had bunk beds in the room and we would alternate weekly sleeping from top to bottom. At bedtime both of us were hardly ever tired, as a lot of kids aren’t when they are forced to go to bed. Instead, we would lie there and talk or even play games.
I can still remember one game we played using the ceiling fan in the room. Whoever was on the top bunk would put an object on the blade of the fan, turn the fan on, and the person on the bottom bunk would try to catch it. I like to think of it now as improving our hand to eye coordination and reaction time. Every once in a while we would make a loud noise diving for the object. Mom or Dad would hear the noise, come up the stairs, tell us to settle down and put an end to the game until the next night.
I also remember one night before bed we caught lightning bugs outside. We put them in small Dixie cups, covered them in aluminum foil and poked holes in the foil for the lightning bugs to breath. We brought the cups inside unknown to our parents and hid them in our closet. I’m sure you can imagine what happened next. Shortly after lying down, the room started lighting up all over the place. “Oh, no! We’re going to get in trouble again!” We immediately had to catch them all as quietly as we could and throw them out the window.
I can’t tell you the number of times I went to bed sweating as a kid with the activities we played instead of trying to sleep. Good times and good memories of my childhood days!
From Middle School through High School I had a room to myself and my two younger brothers shared a room together. But in college, I once again shared a room with multiple other guys. Sleeping with snorers was and still is very tough for me. During my junior year of college I would drop tennis balls from the loft where I slept onto my roommate who slept below me on the couch to wake him up because of his loud snoring. And during my senior year I would throw footballs at my roommate who slept in the bed next to me to wake him up from his snoring.
Even now in this place I have roommates, also called cellmates or cellies. In all, I’ve had around 30 cellies in 50+ months of being locked up. I can’t say we play games that make us sweat right before bed time or catch creatures to bring inside as pets. But I have had my share of some good cellies and some not-so-good cellies, smelly cellies and clean cellies, murderers, drug dealers, gang members and sex offenders, Christians and atheists.
As I write this blog right now I have no cellie. He went home last week. And let me tell you…..it feels great to have the room all to myself. It’s been a week now with another week to go before another Christian brother moves in. In the 50+ months I’ve been locked up, not including the past seven nights, I’ve had a total of five nights all to myself. This is by far the longest stretch without a cellie for me, and I am enjoying every minute.
Not that it is quiet in the unit, as there is no door in my room, but just sitting in solitude without anyone else around can be very peaceful. That’s why I get up at 5am to have my quiet time with God before any of the other inmates wake up and cause a ruckus.
Everyone needs quiet and solitary time in their life. Both are very hard to come by here in prison. But when it does happen, I take full advantage of it. Look at Jesus! He always took time to get away from everyone to pray in solitude and focus on His Father. With the busy-ness in one’s schedule, we too, need to take those time outs to focus our minds on God. He does not want you to forget about Him in your fast-paced life. Take time for Him, whether it is early in the morning or before settling in to bed at night. Whatever time fits your schedule, I encourage you to do it, and make a habit of it. Even serving time in prison my mind is at peace. I begin each day off on a great note when I take time to worship Him in whatever quiet I can get.