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A Christmas gift in prison

An incarcerated person practices generosity

Santa Claus candy.
A generous heart brings happiness to others. (Photo by Bill Rogers)

I visited the prison in Bowling Green, Missouri, tonight and wanted to share this story. Rick, a member of our group, said he received some money from a friend recently who deposited it in his prison account. So he bought up bunches of candy and held on to it. Then on Christmas Day he went into the yard and handed the candy out to strangers.

Yesterday one of the strangers came up to him and said, “You know, that was the only Christmas gift I received this year—thank you!”

Rick sets an example for me. He’s one of the poorer guys in prison and yet, in addition to his great smile and deep insights, he found something else to give.

Reverend Kalen McAllister

Rev. Kalen McAllister was ordained by Rev. Shoken Winecoff in 2007 at Ryumonji Monastery near Decorah, Iowa. She is a long-time practitioner of Zen, and was active in the operation of the Missouri Zen Center for many years. In March, 2009, she received an award from the Women's Buddhist Council in Chicago for her work with prisoners in several eastern Missouri prisons. In 2004, she co-founded Inside Dharma, an organization dedicated to assisting prisoners in practical matters, as well as supporting their practice of meditation and Buddhism. Rev. Kalen received Dharma transmission in March, 2012, from her teacher, Shoken Winecoff, at Ryumonji Zen Monastery. In April, she traveled to Japan to be formally recognized (Zuise) at the two major temples, Eiheiji and Sojiji, in ceremonies where her robe was officially exchanged to brown and she was recognized as a Dharma teacher. (Source: Shinzo Zen Meditation Center)

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