A few years ago I had the opportunity to work for a semester as a chaplain at a Boston jail. My primary work was helping to lead a group of inmates in the practice of silent prayer. I cannot say that I had any particular expectations or resolves about this undertaking before I began it. But by the time my semester came to an end, I learned some wholly unexpected lessons about the transformative power of prayer in a jail setting; about the effects on the body of such personal transformation; and about this country’s systemic racism and how it is in some ways coterminous with the attempt to prevent or repress such transformation.
Sarah Coakley is professor of divinity at the University of Cambridge and an Anglican priest in the diocese of Ely. The first volume of her systematic theology, God, Sexuality and the Self: An Essay "On the Trinity," is forthcoming.