The Words of the Sheppard Family

Excerpts from Mr. Bill Sheppard's Diary and Letters -- Life with Father in Danbury Prison

June 1985

Mr. Bill Sheppard with his daughter Lauren.

Mr. Bill Sheppard feels personally responsible to assume Mr. Kamiyama's position of taking care of Father in prison. He entered the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, in April 1984.

Dear ___,

Father seems to know how I am feeling and sometimes what I am thinking. He has graciously allowed me to talk with him at length on many aspects of the Principle. I have found that throughout my entire life I have been struggling internally to "do something." My marriage with Carol and the birth of our daughter Lauren has been filled with so much hardship and pain...

Yet I can tell you sincerely that Carol has withstood each of these hardships with an inner courage and strength few could match. She has always given openly of herself to everyone, asking nothing in return and hardly ever complaining of her circumstances.

Even during this period of our lives she has shown everyone just what tenacity, patience, and hope are made of. As you may know we recently were confronted with more bad news from the judge. But strangely, both Carol and I met this news without despair, to a large degree because of the new hope I have learned from Kami (Takaru Kamiyama), yourself, others, and mostly from Father.

I do not pretend to understand everything but I do know that my experiences with Father are truly a treasure. Somehow I have become naturally attached to him. I know that I am hardly the best person to be with and report about Father, but I will continue to try my best.

I am looking forward to receiving literature, some of which John Kirkley and David Hager have sent or will be sending. Please thank Gwenn Bair for her beautiful note and picture of Father and Mother. It arrived here the day I was informed that the judge denied my motion. The timing was most "strange" but as Father said, Moonies are strange.


Dear ___,

You asked about my "internal world" in response to Father. Well, all I can say is, Father has touched me most in my "internal world." If I had the ability to express my thoughts on paper properly I would convey this to you clearly. Father has opened his heart to me continuously, patiently, openly.

Throughout my life I have struggled "internally," mostly subconsciously, to "do something." I see this period with Father as a new beginning on the one hand, and also as a culmination of a lifelong struggle for myself, my wife, my daughter, and my family. Without question this is a period in which I have been growing internally. Growing in the sense that many things I have done in my life without really knowing their purpose have taken on a new meaning, a true meaning.

I am simultaneously coming together internally and growing in all directions. I also see my wife and daughter growing in the same way. Simply, I have followed a path which has led me to Danbury under very strange circumstances.

Many people here say that I have "changed" somewhat. I feel rather that I have not changed but "exchanged" a part of myself for something better, something natural, all the while keeping the part of me that was always natural.

Inmates here have jokingly called Kamiyama Half-Moon and Larry Quarter-Moon, but I am referred to as New Moon -- something that I have always found to be humorous. But in humor there is always a bit of truth. Father said to be called a Moonie shows the amount of respect that person has for Father. With that in mind I accept with pride the titles "New Moon" and "Moonie" that I have been called. I fully understand that I am hardly worthy of being called those names, since my knowledge is the lowest of all; but my respect and love for Father are the highest.

I hope in some small way I have answered your request adequately, and I look forward to receiving a picture of you as well as some letters from you regarding your "internal world" and your growth over the years since your first contact with the Unification movement on campus. I sincerely hope to be of service.

* * *

Dear ___,

Father's words while in the death camp in North Korea that you quoted could easily have been his words while here in Danbury prison.

As you already know, Father never changes his basic way of life and remains true to his words. I can only hope that I can continue to be of service to him. I know that I can protect him and I hope I have been of some comfort.

I remain embarrassed that my so-called diary has been read by so many people. When Mr. Kamiyama, whom I know as my brother "Kami," and I became friends at Danbury, I had no idea it would ever lead to my present situation. He asked that I write down a few words about life here at Danbury with Father. I promised that I would try and write periodically, thinking it was just to be read by him. To my surprise, not only did others read it, but Peter Kim one day read it to Father himself.

Father's approval was a gift to me. I know my feelings and expressions are true. These I am not embarrassed about, but rather the fact that I am hardly a writer of any sort.

I am so glad that my love and respect for Father were felt by you, and I hope I have been of some small comfort to Mother, whom I have only spoken to briefly on the telephone or waved to as Father says goodbye to her after visits. I look forward to the day when I can meet her and she can meet my family.

You mentioned in your letter that you joined the church in 1975. This prompted me to think that I have joined Father without even knowing the church as you have for 10 years.

I have come to realize the fact that my being here at Danbury at this time to meet Father and Kami is much more than chance or coincidence.

Thank you again.

* * *

This letter was sent in reply to a blessed couple's written request that Bill Sheppard ask Father to name their baby.

Dear ___,

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter; what a blessing she must be. Yes, I have been receiving your letters and beautiful pictures. I understand very well the wonderful feeling you both must have being new parents. Every aspect of my daughter's birth remains a precious memory. My wife glowed. Even with the many months of medical problems with Lauren, I still recall that time with Carol and Baby Lauren as magnificent.

I have not responded to your letters until now for two reasons. First, the "prison mail" is much slower than regular mail, due to the extra handling. Second, I have been contemplating an appropriate answer to you both.

I feel that I understand your request and am sure it is motivated by the overwhelming love you have, especially at this time. However, it is my sincere feeling that Father cannot name your baby or even respond to you directly. I have learned that Father has but one body that cannot be given to everyone that requests something of him.

Should Father show partiality to you and not to other happy couples, they might feel slighted -- something that would hurt him very deeply: the very opposite of your heartfelt intentions. Millions of people have wanted to meet Father and to visit with him here at Danbury, but of course that is impossible. Others have written to him directly (expecting a response) or have wanted to have him call them collect. This too is impossible.

Father spends his time meditating, working, reading, and studying. During his visits his own children sometimes must sit quietly away from him while he visits with others, yet they do not complain. They sit patiently.

Recently, when Father went out for his birthday, I was told he talked almost every minute, even while he was eating. He returned from this all-day excursion almost unable to talk, his throat was so sore. He was very tired. During that time he was speaking to, I believe, one thousand people gathered at Belvedere, and in the audience was Mr. Kamiyama.

Because of the demands on his time, Father has not been with Kamiyama since Kamiyama left prison, even though they lived, worked, studied, and prayed together for nearly five months at Danbury. I'm sure Kamiyama understood and I hope the both of you can understand also.

I do not speak for Father; I only speak of Father in what I have observed, heard and sometimes overheard. Being a parent is a joy but also a tremendous responsibility from God. Something I'm sure you're aware of and prepared for.

Your request, I believe, was made out of love. Your letter arrived here like a visit for Father. Upon leaving to go to Danbury prison, Father said he was going to prison on a worldwide level and asked all to be strong and courageous to go out on the battlefield instead of visiting him here at Danbury.

I did not know Father then, but in some small degree I know him now, and recognize the burdens he must carry to be victorious. Father has lived here at Danbury since July 20, 1984, during which time I unexpectedly and uninvitedly became attached to him, and have learned much. However, I am just a humble man hoping this letter is in some way an answer to you both. Thank you for writing and sharing with me your wonderful blessing.

* * *

Diary Excerpts

January 19, 1985 Morning

I awakened at approximately 2:30 A.M., quietly made myself a cup of coffee, and stood watch as usual.

Around 3:30 A.M. Father awakened to my surprise; he began exercises and meditation in bed as usual.

At approximately 4:10 A.M. Father seemed to jump out of bed; he awakened Larry to call Col. Pak in Washington for him. Father spoke to Col. Pak for some time.

Larry, who was still a little groggy from being awakened out of a deep sleep, asked me why Father was calling at this early hour. I said I didn't know for sure.

After Father finished speaking to Col. Pak he had Larry call Mother at East Garden.

Then Larry went to sleep. Father finished his call and retired. I stayed up, sitting in bed, thinking about Father's early awakening and his sudden telephone call to Col. Pak.

My thoughts were occasionally interrupted by sounds of the night, some familiar, some not. I thought of how accustomed I had become to getting up in the middle of the night and how I have become so alert to the environment in the quiet of the night.

Months ago, if someone had told me that I would be getting up each and every night I would not have believed it. I fell asleep thinking of what Father spoke of the night before. The seven thousand years, the seven hundred years, the seventy years, the seven years...and of what Kami had told me before he left after seven months.

January 20, 1985 5:30 A.M.

Today is a workday for Father. Since I stayed up most of the night, I thought it best to go to breakfast instead of sleeping for a few hours. Since Larry doesn't go to breakfast, I try to have breakfast with Father a few times a week whenever possible.

Father once told me how it is tradition for a family to gather all together at breakfast, the most important meal, in a "serious atmosphere." The grandparents, parents, and children are all there. Father described this as a time when the children are corrected for what they may have done wrong, or a time for a serious talk.

This morning I was sitting at a table drinking coffee, waiting for Father to come down. I was sitting with another inmate and a guard. We were all making small talk. Father came in and proceeded to do his job, preparing the dining room for breakfast, filling the napkin holders, wiping the tables, etc.

Afterwards Father got a tray of food and sat at a back table alone. I remained at my table. At a moment of silence in the conversation, the other inmate turned to me and said, "Why don't you go ahead and sit with your buddy, Rev. Moon? We know you'd both like to be together. It's all right, we understand." I said I didn't Want to be rude. But he said, "Go ahead, it's OK."

Interestingly enough, many people are slowly beginning to understand Father, and some are recognizing my relationship with him.

I brought my tray over to Father's table and sat down. We exchanged "good mornings." Oddly, we don't usually have much time together in the morning, since I sit up while he sleeps, and he's up when I sleep.

Father spoke about the information sent to the American clergymen and how important this will be for them, their children, and their congregations. Everyone will have the opportunity to see and hear (on videotape) and read (in Father's letter) about the Unification Church, and to talk about the Principle, Father, the church, and the future. He also talked about the continuing threat of communism and the awakening of the FBI and the CIA to this threat.

… Later, I found Father and Larry in the recreation room playing pool. Father was beating everyone game after game. I decided it was time I participated in the playing. I played with Father, who won decisively. Afterwards he looked at me and said, "Sorry!"

We both smiled and laughed. We all played pool for a while -- Father, myself, Larry, and Tony. Father won a lot of games and Larry won a lot of games. While we played I could not help but notice many people watching us truly enjoying being together.

Later, Father returned to his cube and resumed reading; then he retired.

January 25, 1985 10:15 P.M.

I'm sitting on my bed in the midst of writing a letter to my daughter Lauren, and all the while I'm thinking of what I will do if we cannot find the diary parts apparently lost in the mail.

I cannot help but think of what Father has told me about catching knowledge anytime. The diary in and of itself is merely the writings of a simple person who finds it difficult to express his feelings or to accurately report the acts and words of Father. The diary seems to me to be a physical connection, while the essence of Father's words and deeds are spiritual.

I know that many people have been fortunate enough to be close to Father, and I am sure that they can attest to his unchanging character much better than I have attempted to these past months.

I find it "strange," as Father says, that I am reporting for the millions of people who are anxious to hear of his words and actions. Strange in the sense that I know so very little of the Unification Church and have read nothing of others' reports. I am curious, I must admit, to know what others have experienced when they were either with Father or read or heard the Principle for the first time.

After months of being first with Kami, and then with Father, I am thinking more of the world than of my personal situation. This is something I cannot explain, but simply feel. I feel that spiritual love for all humankind is something to hope for, strive for, and eventually attain.

January 26, 1985 1:00 P.M.

Larry stopped by my cube to talk. I could tell something was bothering him. He was quiet.

Larry: Do you know that black fellow who works in education? Well, he and I were playing pool together and you know how everyone jokes while playing? He said something to me about missing a ball during the game, and I said that I wasn't worried because he was a fish [sic].

He called me something and continued to insult me in front of many people. I told him, "Look, I didn't mean anything by it and I apologize, so let's leave it alone."

Well, he wouldn't leave it alone. He's been trying to instigate an argument or a fight with me ever since this morning. It's a problem. I see him every day in education.

I told him, "Look, let's not talk with each other then." He still persisted.

Billy, if it wasn't for him (Father), I would have hit him right there and that would have been that. After all, how would it look if we had a fight and we were both taken out to the hole? Me, being close to the Reverend, in the hole. (The hole is a segregation cell where people are taken for punishment.)

Bill: Larry, you most certainly did the right thing. First by apologizing to avoid the problem. Secondly, by not entering into the continuing argument. That is a very important thing to do for yourself and for Father.

Larry: Billy, I tell you, I was just waiting for him to touch me, I was so mad. He tried to make it into a racial thing between black and white. When the Reverend is gone, and if I'm still here, I'll take him and anyone else outside.

Bill: Larry, that won't be necessary. That man will eventually realize he was wrong. Just keep your present frame of mind of peacefulness.

We were interrupted by someone who stopped by the cube. Larry left, saying he was taking a walk.

January 26, 1985 3:00 P.M.

Larry stopped by my cube.

Bill: Did you realize how everyone is slowly changing?

Larry: Yes. Joe likes him (Father). Bill: How about you though?

Larry: These people just don't understand like you and me, Billy.

No family, no law, nothing will ever change him (Father), no matter what they do! Even if they put him in jail for ten years, Billy, you know he (Father) would be the same, doing good. He's like us.

Look what they did to Jesus. Even up to the very last, he tried to tell them. But they just didn't realize until after he died.... It's just like him (Father) maybe.

Bill: That, Larry, is our truth.

Someone walked into the cube_ I thought of what I had heard Larry say. How very uncharacteristic it was of him! How much he had progressed this past month! Larry and I were making a connection.

January 27, 1985 3:30 PM

I went outside to wait for Father, Mother, and the visitors to leave. We all waved and the smallest child screamed over and over, "Go bye Papa! Go bye Papa! Go bye Ball"

We all went inside. Larry was talking about his business, which has been declining since he went to prison. Father said the business needed Larry. We exchanged ideas about various types of businesses and the strategy each requires. Then we all went to dinner.

Father: One clergyman will say to another: that is bad, or this is bad. Another clergyman will say: but did you read chapter so and so? They will be thinking, and discussing the material amongst themselves. Their congregations don't know this is happening. The ministers will find themselves thinking about things...wanting to know more. That's the kind of situation we will be having.

Bill: Father, I must ask you. This is very familiar strategy to me. This is like my situation: I met Kami first and then you. I received a book from you and read it and thought about it and you told me not to ask other people questions. This is like the clergymen who are reading, thinking, and questioning, some discovering the truth for themselves.

Father: It's true. These clergymen are very conversant with the Bible from studying it so many times. Now with this new information, they can quickly recognize many truths with their past education as a base. 

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