A week ago a request for prayers for Father Gordon (about) and Pornchai was put up here at Holy Souls Hermitage, with an emphasis, I said, on Pornchai. Many have been wondering what this special request was all about.
I finally got the go ahead from Father Gordon today to write something about this. I also had a good chat with Pornchai. It’s always refreshing to speak with those who reflect Jesus so well.
Those of you who don’t know about Pornchai would do well to read about him in his own words: first HERE (at the Catholic League), then HERE (at These Stone Walls). After that, search on the blog here for stories with links to These Stone Walls, The Catholic League, The Divine Mercy Shrine, etc.: http://holysoulshermitage.com/s=pornchai
So, this is a very brief account of what happened the other week. I’m only brave enough to write this, risking making mistakes, since Pornchai himself will have a guest post coming up during Easter Week here at Holy Souls Hermitage, just in time for Divine Mercy Sunday, when he was brought into the Church. He can correct me! O.K. So…
A young, very cocky new prisoner, full of himself, continuously causing trouble everywhere he’s been, always bragging what a great competitive boxer he is, always right in everyone’s face, was living in a bunk out in the open space of the cell block in that ever so overcrowded prison. He noticed that there was a bunk opening up in the cell next to Pornchai and Father MacRae. He. Wanted. That. Bunk.
Everyone, including the prison administration, wanted that free bunk in the cell to go to another prisoner who was also living out in the open, right in front of the cell of Father Gordon and Pornchai. That other prisoner is extremely elderly, and is dying of stomach cancer and other illnesses.
Father Gordon helped the old fellow move into the cell. This set the young boxer to pacing for hours, obviously terribly agitated. Suddenly he appeared at the cell of Father Gordon and Pornchai, upset that he did not get the bunk he wanted. Towering head and shoulders over Pornchai, he went after Pornchai, sucker punching him the face, so that his teeth came right through his upper lip, blood everywhere.
Don’t mess with Pornchai. Let’s just say that Pornchai sent this overconfident boxer guy right to the hospital. Literally. And, mind you, a trip to the hospital is always to be avoided if possible in a prison. Pornchai really cleaned his clock. Sorry, but I just have to smile when I think of this scene. Sorry!
Both were sent to solitary confinement to chill out for a week. Imagine for just a moment what this must have been like for Pornchai. Everything was going great. He just graduated from High School (a diploma, not a G.E.D.), and had privileges such as woodworking and having a job in the prison, coveted pass-times for prisoners as you can imagine. He had found the faith and was enjoying going to Mass with Father MacRae. He was helping the staff psychologist help other prisoners in overcoming their past horrific lifetimes. He is the peacemaker with any prisoners who otherwise want to kill each other. All of it taken away in a second, and for all he knew, permanently. Just because someone decided to do this to him.
What was he to think about? How he had already spent some 14 years in solitary confinement? The horrors of his childhood? Should he lose himself to bitterness, rancor?
Instead, Pornchai spent much of his time in solitary confinement in prayer, and speaks of forgiveness for the other fellow, hoping that he will find the proper programs in the prison so that he can be helped, so that he can grow. Thank God, the prison officials let him out of solitary confinement, and judged that he acted in self-defense. They still let him keep his job in prison, but took away the woodworking privileges for six months as a way to say that Pornchai wiped up the floor with the other fellow a bit too well. I told Pornchai that that means that he can have some time to write. He was eager to do just that. I left out very many things about Pornchai’s thoughts about our Lord during these trials. Magnificent, really. But I think he will mention something of that in his own post in a few weeks time.
Know that both Father Gordon and Pornchai thank you so much for your prayers!
Oh, and, by the way, the older gentleman dying of stomach cancer did get that bunk, and is very thankful for it. The other fellow won’t ever be back in this particular cell block.