The wise ones were risk takers. Following the star, traveling beyond the familiar and the known, they sought something new. Perhaps they were motivated by the everyday reminders that something wasn’t right: poverty, cultural oppression, aggressive empires. Discouraged by the lack of imagination among those who had traditionally led, they were seeking wisdom from unexpected places.
The natal star shines today, brightening the way to wisdom from other unexpected places. It rises over Grand Valley, a prison for women in Ontario, where our partners Miles Schell and Cheryl Roberts work with incarcerated women through CCJC’s Empathy Project, helping them to reimagine justice. Women in the program have come to see that the punishment never fits the crime; that punishment is not the same as justice. New understandings are born as these women declare that healing should be the goal of justice and that forgiveness in the community is required for healing. As one participant explained, “Punishment is designed to have an impact on the offender [only] … justice is a restoration [for all those affected by the crime]”. The women who participate in The Empathy Project, gain the wisdom that the circle of those affected is very, very wide. Justice holds out the hope of healing, “although [it is] very difficult; [forgiveness] is the path to healing”.
When the wise ones got to the stable, were they able to set aside the gifts they were carrying to make room in their arms to hold and cuddle a baby? When these women invite us in, can we set aside the familiar and risk embracing their unexpected wisdom?
May blessings be upon you as we journey to the star.
CCJC is currently creating a new curriculum specific to the needs of women in Canada for use in The Empathy Project. Our aim is have the women’s curriculum completed by the end of January, 2018. Merry Christmas from the Board and Staff of The Church Council on Justice and Corrections.[:]