Since I began writing and publishing write or Die Zines several
years ago and sending them out to share with family, my aunt, Linda,
makes it a point to address me by both my first "AND" middle name in
her letters to me: Byron-Paul. After the renowned apostle who authored
some of the earliest writings in the new testament/Bible. It's an Irony
not lost on her since I've long dissolved my faith in ALL matters of
religion - something she's well aware of. None-the-less, she'll call
me "minister" Byron-Paul. Reading every Write or Die zine she receives.
Especially where we interview and write about issues concerning inner
city youths, the criminal justice system and mass incarceration...Even
perspective expressing ideas that are critical of her Christian faith,
often responding to my "areligious" position with reciprocal scripture
and spiritual perspective. "Dear minister Byron-Paul, you are doing great
work...Gods work through Write or Die..." Some of the opening words of her
letters. And though I must admit I've dismissed much of her faith-filled
letters as typical church rhetoric, after several years of many letters
from aunt Linda, I'm finding her influence more relevant than I could've
Aunt Linda comes to mind as I write this testimonial, and I think that's
because I sense this kind of personal, profound parallel in the influence
of both my aunt Linda and Kathy, in the way I perceive the world around
me. Such as Kathy, I watched these testimonials come together into this
Message To The Church zine in such a way...I can only call the experience
organic - since I don't believe in the Divine or Blessings and things of
that nature, but yet, I must admit this feeling of things happening for
a reason. Positive things. Good things, that are connected to good people.
People who believe in a higher purpose and meaning And so, I find myself
in a unique position now in facilitating something like this. Finding
myself the unwitting author of a testimonial to my own spiritual transitioning,
maybe? not quite, no.
However, I feel compelled (just as much as I do obligated) to tell this story...
This testimonial, as it was inspired. As much as it is owned to Kathy, her
"weary" bakers and prison ministry unit from the Holy Spirit Catholic Church;
and of course, to my aunt, Linda, who always instructs me to follow my calling
to bring words of truth.
When Floyd first told me about Kathy and the offer of a package, and a visit
from a church member, I remember my feeling more open to receiving the package
than the person. Imagining someone who might see me as their mission to evangelize
and turn me away from my path of "heathenism." I didn't want that. But of course,
I couldn't accept a gift in such an ill manner - despite my cynicism, so I agreed
to it, with the understanding (both Floyd and I shared) that whoever I met in that
visiting room would be a welcomed, new experience for me. Something that we are
fortunate to receive.
After getting a letter, I received a visit a few weeks later just before the
(2017) New year from a young man named Joseph Carbis, who made a great impression
on me. It didn't' take long for he and I to indulge our personal interest (both
similar and conflicting), and merge them into some conservative conversations and ideas. He shared his personal testimonial that brought him to the church and changed his lifestyle for the better, that expressed his interest in doing guerilla ministry in his free-time. Particularly, mentoring at-risk youth. And now, having volunteered for Kathy's prison ministry unit to extent on this idea, he had this new sense of purpose that his faith was leading him into something meaningful. He liked what I was doing with Papyrus Collective and Write or Die LineProject, and we spent the last 30 minutes of that first visit kind of talking about the possibility and potential of our doing something together expand some of these project-based ideas "outside" with his help. We really had no idea though at the time that our collaboration was already taking shape.
Just before that following month of January 2017, both Floyd and I had discussed the early idea of taking a group of letters from the handful of us who received [?] packages and pen pals to put together a live. Word of "thanx" here pouring in to Floyd for him to relay to Kathy, and as genuine as everyone was in word. This idea lacked anything more than that. We almost down-graded our idea from a line to a greeting card that said it all in words we could sign-on to. When Floyd shared with me a group of photos and a letter that he had previously received from Kathy. These two things sparked the sentiment and inspiration that poured into the pages of these testimonials and this line.
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