If you head into a maximum security men’s prison to tell stories, take along your sense of humor, and it’s a top idea to bring along an electric teapot and a variety of teas and sugar!
That’s what Geraldine Buckley—one of the storytellers slated to be on the roster at the 32nd annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival—advises.
Buckley has been telling stories and serving tea at prisons in the United States and New Zealand for years.
In the prison, she made it a point to remember the inmate’s favorite and how many sugars to add.
“I go where angels fear to tread,” Buckley says. “Some of the scariest things reap the greatest rewards.”
British-born Buckley has told stories, held workshops, and coached for 30-plus years in the United States, Canada, England, South Africa, Holland, Spain, and New Zealand.
Until 2010, she was the Protestant chaplain at the largest men’s prison in Maryland.
“Was I ever scared? I was terrified! I thought, ‘What on Earth am I doing? I wanted to appear cool. So I said, ‘There are not murderers or rapists here, are there?’”
She was told there were about 200 of them! Two hundred prisoners who brought her tea from their daily rations.
So she brought her teapot and started serving tea, hundreds of cups of tea, over the next five years.
She brought in bottles of bubbles and big, beefy men joined in the bubble-blowing.
“We became a community,” she said. “Something happened to me then. I wanted to go in bringing love and laughter—without fear, without judgment. I am so glad I did it! It was my season.”
Her stories of telling stories in prisons are compiled in her CD: “Tea in the Slammer.”
She’s also written and told stories about observing patients in hospitals with COVID-19 in “Pandemic Parables.”
She’s popular at festivals in the United States, England, South Africa, Spain, and New Zealand.
She has a Master’s degree in Communications from Regent University.