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A Very Good Week Behind Bars

By Janeal Ravndal

Pendle Hill Pamphlet #380 (2005)

Price: $7.50


What is it like to spend time in prison for demonstrating for a cause we believe in? In this essay, Janeal Ravndal writes of her week in Philadelphia’s Federal Detention Center after she chose to ignore orders not to block entry to a courthouse as the U.S. began to attack Iraq early in 2003. A long-time beloved member of the Pendle Hill community, Janeal shares movingly of joyful moments and discouraging times, of shared prayers and music-making, and of the satisfaction of creating art from the sparse “found” materials in a cell. Yet conscious of the dramatic contrast between her “very good week” and the days of a typical inmate, Janeal was acutely aware of what a different world prison would be for those who found little joy or companionship there and had no supportive and prayerful community waiting to welcome them home.

About the Author(s)

“It was a Pendle Hill Pamphlet my father received from the Wider Quaker Fellowship fifty-some years ago that sparked my interest in Friends. My Presbyterian parents, as well as their minister and missionary parents, were all pacifists. Growing up I went from a series of parsonages to Wilmington College. At the campus Friends Meeting for Worship, Professor Joe Havens encouraged my ministry and Teresina Rowell Havens relieved my difficulty with creeds by saying, ‘You cannot catch the spirit in a net of words.’

After an exchange semester at Knoxville College in Tennessee where I was the only white student, I met Chris Ravndal while volunteering at an AFSC work camp. We married a year later and headed off to two years of Chris’s alternate service in Newfoundland. Next, we moved to New York City where we joined the Society of Friends. Then it was north, to teach, houseparent and raise three adopted children at The Meeting School in New Hampshire where we were part of Monadnock Monthly Meeting. I belong to Stillwater Meeting in Barnesville, Ohio, where Chris taught at Olney Friends School and I became a social worker.”

Chris and Janeal lived and worked at Pendle Hill for many years. They are currently retired and live in Ohio.

Pendle Hill Pamphlet #380

Additional information

Weight 2.3 oz