Monday, June 23, 2008

Bittersweet Day

Bittersweet Day
This evening we can almost smell Richmond as we settle down on the floors of a house owned by Chester (VA) United Methodist Church. Wow! One week ago today we set out on this little walk. Today, we passed the midpoint of this 300-mile journey! Today was our longest mileage day – 27 – thanks to an early start and the no show of expected thunderstorms. And we were joined by 5 Virginians today.
As exciting as it was to pass the halfway point, it was so sad to say, “Goodbye,” to the Biesack family who have walked with us all week and whose multitude of talents have made the load so much lighter for all. While so many have contributed so much, we simply have to say our biggest ‘thank you’ to Dave, Debbie and Ellen for the time and talent they’ve given in preparing for and conducting this Pilgrimage. We felt a bit deflated when they left for home after lunch today. Furthermore, Abe, Beth and Isaac from DC and Beth from Durham left at the same time, leaving us with our smallest crew yet.
But this journey is so amazing! We continued the afternoon’s segment with Steve and Daniel from Norfolk and in just a few yards Grant, Daniel and Scott encountered Smitty. While we braced ourselves for the familiar ‘eye for an eye’ (why is it that those are the only words of Scripture that so many people know?) speech, Smitty surprised us with heartfelt praise, words of wisdom and some of his story. He talked about spending more than 20 years of his life in prison. He talked about what an awful place it was. (Seems the only people who think prison is such a pampered and easy life are people who’ve never been there. I have yet to hear people who’ve lived or worked in a prison describe it as anything but difficult.) He also talked about the difficulties of adjusting to life on the outside and how little help is available to help former inmates transition successfully.
Smitty told us that our walking to remember murder victims and their families, people on death row and their families and calling for an end to the death penalty was a good and admirable thing to do. He closed with some wisdom he said he’d learned from life inside and outside of prison. “People either respect life or they don’t. You can’t make a person respect life by threatening to kill him.” --Scott

1 comment:

Vivian Schwarz said...

God bless all of you. You'll never know how many lives you have touched. My husband Jeff and I feel priviledged and honored to have met you on Saturday. Peace and love to all of you. Vivian Schwarz