Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is located on a small Island in the San Francisco Bay. Located a little over a mile off the mainland, the prison once held notorious criminals such as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (The “Birdman” of Alcatraz) and George “Machine Gun” Kelly, among others. Alcatraz has been the setting for numerous movies and the prison, closed in 1963, remains a popular destination for visitors to the bay area. Sally and I recently toured the facility when visiting our daughter, Kira. I was fascinated by the history of the operations of the facility, violent prison riots and numerous escape attempts. Three cells that once held inmates who essentially chipped away concrete block with spoons and escaped, are still displayed with their openings to freedom that the inmates managed to squeeze through. Prison conditions were described as horrible. There was very little privacy in the extremely small cells and the furnishings were primitive. It was even worse for minorities who were segregated because of prevalent racial abuse. Solitary confinement cells in the D-Block section were designated for inmates who behaved badly. The very worst inmates who were thrown into “The Hole,” which was one of the five cells at the end of the section. Here, prisoners experienced isolation, darkness, brutal treatment and confinement for long periods of time. I tried to imagine what life would be like in “The Hole,” knowing the beautiful views of the Bay Area were just outside the prison walls. At least the prisoners in the other cells could look forward to going to the dining hall and playing ball outside on prison grounds during recreation time, but prisoners confined to “The Hole” paid a huge price for their transgressions. The despair of separation and loneliness must have been overwhelming for them.
Consider being confined to prison for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Such is the case of a man who was held hostage for more than six years by Muslim radicals. Tom Sutherland shares the story of how he coped with loneliness in an exclusive film at Lifetree Small Group The episode, Lonely: Secrets Learned in Solitary Confinement, features the filmed account of Sutherland, a university professor who was kidnapped in Lebanon. For more than six months of his six-year captivity, Sutherland was held in solitary confinement. According to Lifetree representative Craig Cable, "Many people know the ache of loneliness. But few people know the deep loneliness experienced by Tom Sutherland during his captivity. We'll discover what he did to cope and gain valuable insights we can apply to our own lives." You are invited to join the conversation in the CCC Youth Room #130 on Tuesday, November 15th, at 7:00 p.m. The event is free, it only lasts an hour, and it might change your life! Please invite a friend who may also benefit from this discussion. Lifetree Small Group welcomes everyone and also provides opportunities to fellowship, meet new people, and talk about life together. Reflection and meaningful conversation will follow the presentation. For more details, see www.facebook.com/lifetreecafehilliard.