The Table Video

Stanley Hauerwas, Helen Prejean & Evan Rosa

Love, Peace, and the Way of the Cross

Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Divinity and Law, Duke Divinity School
Nun / Author / Advocate
CCT Director / Editor of The Table / Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
April 15, 2016

After 2016’s Love No Matter What event, Evan Rosa, Stanley Hauerwas, and Sister Helen Prejean discuss the topics of Love, Peace, and the Way of the Cross. They cover topics such as love, forgiveness, death, marriage, peacemaking, and much more.

Transcript:

I gotta ask you, what would you mean by saying God is our enemy?

Well, one, there’s good scriptural evidence for that, in the sense that when we discover that God is God and we are not, it’s very hard for us to forgive God for being God. When part of what it means to learn to be a creature, is to be able to accept our very existence as gift, without regret, and when someone gives you a gift, you’ve not anticipated but it’s really a good gift, and you don’t want to give it back, what you naturally want to do, as soon as possible, is to give them something in return.

Yes.

Where you will not be in debt.

Mmm, k.

Is it any wonder we hate God? Because we are God’s gift and there’s nothing we can do in return but praise God. So, I think that the general presumption that, oh we’re just chummy with God is one that has to be questioned in terms of how it is that we we find God an enemy of our pride. That’s what I meant. So you have to learn to love.

And you know the gift we get in life, that we just didn’t deserve, it’s our creaturehood, but also God summons us in death,

Absolutely

the other side too.

Right. Right. Augustine had a very interesting discussion about whether we would’ve died if we hadn’t sinned.

Ya.

And he wasn’t sure what to say but since he believed that God created us for friendship with God, probably some kind of death was necessary, through which, we lost our finitude, because as finite beings we can’t be friends with God unless God befriends us and makes us more than we otherwise would be.

Boy you’re no shallow thinker, are you? [laughing] This guy don’t mess around huh.

Let’s go to floor questions.

This is a question for Sister Hellen. You talked about how grace awakened you and how that led you to work with people on death row and that just sort of transformed you. Could you just talk about, I guess how’s grace awakening in you right now and what kind of work is that leading you to right now, what’s happening right now, in your soul, I guess.

Great question.

Well, I have Fra Angelico’s Annunciation right in my living room, and it’s where I pray. And annunciations are frequent, incarnations are rare. Saint Basil said that in the fourth century. Annunciations are frequent, incarnations are rare. It’s like what kind of incarnation am I supposed to be? So I’ve been on the road and I’ve been following it. And it is that I go to places to speak where I get an invitation.

I wait until the annunciation comes and then respond. But there’s also something that’s been stirring in me about writing another book, which I’m calling River of Fire and it’s the prequel to Dead Man Walking. And it’s the spiritual journey that lead me to the point of going into the Saint Thomas Housing Projects and then going to death row.

So it’s really something to write a spiritual memoir because it’s just like you look at all the footprints of grace and where God has taken you. And it’s a hard thing to do, it’s really hard. To write it in an honest way that other people gonna come, so that you don’t distance yourself from people like I was summoned by grace and so I’m way beyond anything you gonna do, I’m the death penalty nun and all the stuff.

But it’s just to be honest and human and to do it. So, what the recent stirring of grace is to take off time because the movement is at a point now where we are beginning to shut down the death penalty in the United States and let the movement carry itself that I’m not necessary to be on the road but to go and retreat to write.

And so right now that’s a stirring for me. I continue to accompany people on death row, one at a time. So I’ll stay faithful to that. A man on death row now in Louisiana is Manuel Ortiz who’s from El Salvador, I’ve accompanied. He’s the seventh one and three of them have been innocent. That’s how broken this blown thing is. He’s innocent. 23 years on death row. And so it’s not like I go and visit people on death row and pour myself out on them, oh these poor people. I mean they replenish me. I see what courage is.

I see what it means to wake up in that cell everyday and to face that day and to fill it with God’s grace. And so it’s a mutually enhancing thing that I get from them and to continue to do that, I’ll keep doing that no matter what. So now it’s to write this book. That’s the latest.

Got a question over here.

Thank you so much for outstanding presentations. And when Sister Hellen was speaking, my heart was weeping, cause I’m thinking, what is happening that is leading, I’m talking about the African American community. What is happening that is leading to what we see today? And what do you think needs to be done for healing? And for deep change?

Well I don’t begin to know the complete answer to that. I know some things that I’ve seen. It is, I think, just scandalous that we simply accept that so many of our people live in poverty and I we’ve every faced slavery and the legacy. I was just in Texas, do you know they have removed, from all the textbooks, that it was slaves brought over, they’re calling them workers. They have removed from the textbooks in Texas that there was the thing called the Klan.

And so, there is just so much. White people have to deal with white privilege. See we say, well I didn’t cause slavery, I didn’t benefit from it, but it’s just for us to understand that we have to do a lot of the changing and African American people have wonderful leaders from within themselves but poverty, we don’t have an economy that’s working for everybody.

And if you poor, you gonna tend to stay poor. We have to really deal with the economics. And I want Stanley to talk about this. We have to deal with the total thing of community. Of how when you’re born in this country that you should have a decent education, you should have a chance at these things. And when they’re not available to people, we can’t blame poor people and just say they’re lazy.

Oh why don’t they get off their duff and don’t they know they ought to keep their kids in school, or that. When you’re living in privilege, and you coming from resources, who are we to dare say that to people. But it also doesn’t mean, just say oh well, you know you’re poor and there are plenty of reasons why you’re not doing well and all that. But really, to begin to work for justice, that people can get and education, and that people can get fair wages. It used to be when you got work, you got out of poverty, but now with the minimum wages and all, people stay in poverty even though they’re working.

So we just have a lot of things to tackle about what’s the common good for this society and to except that we will just have poor people, in this country, or we will simply accept that people will not have health care, that’s a scandal, I think, that we could accept that. Can I accept that I wouldn’t have health care or my little brother wouldn’t have health care? We need it for everybody and we have to ask God to expand our hearts so that we get on fire for that and begin to work for that actively, is the way I see it. It’s gotta be that we gonna do it together. What do you think Stanley?

Stanley, ya?

My way of putting is, is we’re suffering from the failure of the success of the Civil Rights Movement. People think that civil rights was accomplished. Martin Luther King has his holiday, African American’s have civil rights, they can move to the suburbs, have two cars, three TVs, and worry about Jews moving in. So then you get to say, what was a little slavery between friends?

Ya.

What is the case, is America as a country, simply hasn’t come to terms with the fact we’re a slave nation. And that, there is deep reasons for not being able to come to terms with being a slave nation. Namely, what do you do, when what was done was so wrong there’s nothing you can do to make it right.

And how to, have, I think, the language of reconciliation tends to be superficial when it comes to understanding the relationship between whites and African Americans and how you can envision the possibility, which I think is not politically realistic, of reparations.

Oh, ya, boy.

And that you need to really have a kind of affirmative action, in a manor, that doesn’t destroy those people receiving it. I mean, those are fundamental questions that are just crucial. And of course the language you used is common good. That language has no purchase in American political life because we do not believe we have common goods, we believe we have the greatest good of the greatest number of interests that you can put together. So, irrespective of what those interests are. So, I think that we lack the kind of public discourse necessary to discern appropriate responses, to what are clear injustices.

So you talk about the flimsy language of reconciliation and we don’t have the public discourse, currently, so I wonder, if you could, and both of you, I wonder if you’d both describe the kind of conversation you think would be productive to reach these goals. The talk about the common good, what kind of public discourse are you hoping for?

Well in the Catholic social encyclicals it is assumed that a society must enact a just wage. A just wage is what is necessary, it’s not determined by the market, it is what is necessary for a family to be able to make life possible in a manner that children do not go without meals.

That’s right.

So how you can even recover a notion of just wage as a reality for a wider society is just one small gesture toward becoming a society that recognizes that that’s a good for everyone, not just the people that are receiving the just wage.

Right. You know Pope John XXIII, who called the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church, wrote, and cyclical is just a big ol’ fancy word that they use for when the pope writes a letter, okay, [laughing] but he wrote it, it was called Pacem in Terris, Peace on Earth, and he pointed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and he said that’s gonna be a becon that leads us all into a future.

And boy you’d look at those human rights, not to be tortured, not to be killed, but just wage, to be able to marry the person you love, to be able to move from country to country, to have housing, to have, just the basic necessities of what you need. To have health care. All of those things. And I think one of our problems in the US is we’ve been so much an individual interest that you even call these basics, we call them entitlement programs. To have health care is not an entitlement, it’s just what everybody needs.

We need to be able to have that. To be able to have good education. So we’ve had two tracks, I was part of it. We had a private Catholic shool system, they have more Catholic schools in New Orleans, of colleges and high schools, and then you had the public schools going to the toilet. I mean, we’d read the stories, I would read the stories. I felt such guilt when those kids are coming into that adult learning center and I realize that I’d just been given this education and here they were struggling to learn to read and to be able to do math.

And that’s just a scandal that that exists. But how does it happen? I look at my own experience, it’s cause I was separated from it. I never met people who were actually were suffering. I was out in my little suburb. So we have the interstates, we’ve got air conditioned cars, we can drive around each other forever, and not encounter and meet each other. Whatever we can do, to have direct experiences of encountering one another and sharing our experiences.

I think, is what then sets our hearts on fire to just begin to work for something called the common good for us, but we’ve never met each other. There’s a lot of separations. One of which is fear. Because the media pumps fear into us on a daily basis. Don’t go in that neighborhood, you can’t be with those people, those people just as soon shoot you as look at you. And take that on a small scale with us domestically, and then write it large and you got terrorism.

And we are still trying to work out of a basic model as what you do is, you find your enemy, you demean your enemy, and you kill the enemy. And that is the only way to have peace. That’s the death penalty and it’s also ISIS and it’s also well we got Osama Bin Laden and we got Saddam Hussein. We dealing with Al Qaeda, that bombed us on 9/11 with those planes. We had done it all right and they attacked us. So now we gotta go get them, the enemy, and you stoke it with fear.

I love how the Catholic Church has gotten stuck with positions that are radical. The bishop of North Carolina has to be for immigration because he has so many Spanish in his diocese.

That’s a real growth.

It’s great.

Oh man that’s a real growth.

It’s great.

So Catholicism is now the universal church that challenges the arbitrary boundaries of nation states. It’s great.

I don’t want to let this topic pass without giving Stanley a chance, in context of fear, what is peace making look like in a context of fear?

Well you start, as Christians, asking people to tell the truth. What were some of the most fateful words uttered the second day after September the 11th? We are at war. No, you aren’t at war. That was murder. So we Christians aught to have raised our hands and said no, no, you don’t go to war against murderers, you try to arrest them.

But I think George W. was preforming pastorally. He knew the American people were stunned that it had happened on our shores and he needed to give a since of security. So Americans know war. It proved to be a very comforting statement. So, you start by challenging the descriptions that shape public reaction, in a manner that helps Christians call into question the violent character of the modern nation state.

But that violence too goes way back. Look what we did to Native Americans.

Sure. We’re not only a slave nation, we’re a genocidal nation.

Yes.

How do you make that part of your story? I think if we were a culture that was able to acknowledge the killing that was done to make this a nation, we would have never gone to Iraq. There’s no humility without humiliation and we are a humiliated country if you remember what we did to the Native Americans. I mean, that would kill pride very quickly.

Ya my goodness. We’ve got another question.

It’s for you Dr. Hauerwas. We’re here all because we believe in a historical Jesus, namely that Jesus lived a particular life and he suffered on that cross and rose again from the grave. Can you speak to, possibly, how we as Christians and how we here can inform other Christians about establishing a strong connection between the life and suffering of Christ and our subject matter tonight, to love no matter what? You spoke a little bit about this already.

Well the phrase, historical Jesus, which I heard you use fairly innocently, [chuckling] is a dangerous phrase. The historical Jesus is that Jesus that is often times thought to be reconstructed by historical critics. That he must’ve really said this, but he couldn’t have said that. Well, the historical Jesus is the resurrected Christ.

And, therefore, the Jesus that we find in the Gospels is certainly a first century Palestinian Jew, but it is also the case that the way the Church talks about that is that is very god and very man. And so the language of the incarnation is the language of reminder that Jesus isn’t 50% god here and 50% man there but everywhere he’s 100% god and 100% man and that affirmation is crucial for our understanding that Christ is the bringer of a new age that makes possible for Christians to live in a manner that the world finds miraculous.

Up here in the front.

Dr. Hauerwas, I wanted ask you, speaking about peace and learning how to be sinners, what the place of marriage and singleness is within that, I know that you write about that and that you have and so, I’ve been married for mere nine months and very quickly been learning a lot about sin and a lot about peace and so I’m very curious to hear what you have to say about that.

Well, very quickly. The first way of life for Christians is singleness. The most decisive difference between early Christians and the Jews, is Christians don’t have to have children to be Christians. The first mitzvah of a Jew is to have a child, rightly so. People forget, Jesus did not marry and he had 12 guys following him around, which makes you wonder about [laughing] about what kind of life they were about.

That Jesus did not marry is a very significant matter that indicates that Christians do not grow the Church through biological ascription but through witness and conversion of outsiders. Only if you are people in which singleness is a calling and vocation are you relieved from marriage being a damn necessity. Because, marriage in our culture, is far too necessity because it’s the only hedge you’ve got against loneliness but of course, you will discover, after being married for awhile, is there is no loneliness worse than being with someone. So, how to recover?

My way of putting it is, is that marriage isn’t about two people falling in love and needing to be joined together in a legal arrangement but marriage is a pattern of faithfulness that over 25 years of learning to live together, you are able to look back on your lives and call it love. So never think that you know what you say when you tell your wife right now, I love you. It’s a gesture you ought to use [laughing] but you don’t know what you mean. [laughing] And it’s just good for you to recognize that.

Stanley you’ve also written that we’re called to love everyone, even if we’re married.

Yes, right. I have, I have done that. I mean Christians are obligated to love one another because we’re Christians, not because we’re married.

Sister Helen, part of this question was the matter of, I think, vocational singleness, right. The call to singleness. I wonder if you’d speak to your own experience?

Well I just really resonate with what Stanley just said about, to be human is to have this aloneness, or this singleness, and the archetype of the virginal life is not so much somebody who didn’t have sex, but that we are who we are in ourselves before God and to be true to that and then to live out of the deep interiority that that calls us to.

At the end of the day, when the sun sinks and you know we look toward home, we can fill it with TV, we can fill it with things to keep our minds occupied now with iPads and we can always be filling and filling but to have the silence. What do you do for a retreat Stanley or do you, how do you build in the solitude into your life for retreat? I’m gonna share what I do to but I’d like to hear what you do.

I go to church and I’m told to pray like this. [chuckling] And I need to be told to pray like this because I don’t trust my own ability to pray.

So the structure of alliteragy

Right

in worship. Ya. And I do that too. But I’ve also been learning to… Gethsemane is a monastery where Thomas Merton was, it’s a place where you can go. The monks chant. It’s all the scriptures, it’s all the psalms and at different hours, like at three in the morning they do vigils and so it’s a different pattern to get up when you’re not normally getting up. And just asking for and to listen for God to speak. Scripture is a preferential way, for me, of God speaking.

And I’ve feed on the scriptures. The daily scriptures that the Church literature gives us. I carry it with me, on planes or wherever, but it’s that, the listening and just the quiet, just the quiet, and because I’ve found in myself that when I’m quiet, cause see I’m doing a lot of speaking, I have a very active life, I’m out there writing, and doing media interviews and all that. And just to be quiet.

We were talking about airports. See, when your anonymous and your in an airport, which I am a lot, that’s like a cloister for me. And the secret of being in airports is not to live in anticipatory time, of I’m waiting for the plane to take off, this is I’m killing time, this is a nothing time, the present fills and there’s great freedom in it. It’s my experience of trying to do the spiritual practice of being in airports. When I get in a plane I don’t speak to people cause I’m speaking to people when I get off the plane a lot. And the way you get people not to speak to you is just you get the little card printed

Reading

and you hand it to people, it just says I’m deaf and mute [laughing] and they don’t talk to you. What do you do?

I was once talking with abbot of Mepkin Abbey

Oh yes.

And I said, what happens when one of your monks feels like they have a aramanical vocation? He says well we let them go out and try and after a period of time, after they’ve discerned it, you know they can either stay or they can come in. And I said, what’s a period of time? And he said, oh you know, eight or ten years. [laughing] I said, monk time, monk time. [laughing]

Let’s go to a few more questions out here in the audience. Cause we don’t have monk time.

We don’t have monk time.

We’ve got minutes, but let’s try to get a few more questions in.

This is a question for either of you. I’m brand new to this discussion of privilege, particularly in a racial or an economic context. This term is brand new to me. Would you mind answering, what is privilege in the first place?

Good question.

Privilege is never having to look over your shoulder to see who may be calling you into question. To be white it to be privileged. Ferguson certainly made that clear. The worst thing you can possible do is let that guilt you up in a way that you enjoy your guilt because it makes you feel righteous.

That’s so good.

What’s really crucial is a sense of how that might be the occasion for discovering new relationships of those who are not privileged in a manner that creates a commonality that we desperately need.

I have a friend, he’s a civil rights lawyer, and his professional card says, If you’re coming to help me, no thanks. If you’re coming to me because you realize your liberation is tied to mine, welcome. See, and one good thing about being middle class and having good health care and being educated, is we can devote all of our energies to building a just society.

We’re not worried about getting the meals on the table, we have housing, we have health care, we have been given. We can use every bit of those energies then to pour into spending our lives to help build a just society. Meeting people and encountering them. We have freedom of agency, we can move, we can decide to do things and we have community, hopefully, that in which to discern and be able to do.

That’s what the Christian community means to me. Guilt paralyzes us and when I came out of that execution chamber, when Pat, he was the first one I was with who was executed. It paralyzes you or it galvanizes you. It sets you on fire or it just chills your soul and then makes you want to retreat. God quickens us to act, to move, and to be imaginative, and to discover powers we hardly even know we have.

When God quickens us and we begin to act, we feel the solidity of the action. We begin to make our way and we also experience, that through God’s spirit, we can be faithful, in season, out of season, we stay faithful. When we see ourselves committed and being faithful, we know that’s God. Cause left to ourselves, wishy washy, maybe this, maybe that, I’ll go get a graduate degree in something else, I aint going back there, boy that was terrible, I’ll go get a graduate degree in something else and do something else.

The deep call of spirit is always that to keep moving on and to give of ourselves. And a lot of times we don’t know where it’s gonna lead. And as Gandhi said, we don’t do if for the success, we do it because it means the integrity of being faithful to what it is that we see that God’s calling us to, and to begin to act out of it. Action is freeing. It frees us up. No matter how simple the action. To begin to act and then God takes us on the next step.

I’ll say one thing here, that I was talking to Christina Cleveland earlier about this, earlier in the day. The first two things that she says are listening and being willing to act as a bridge. I’m not talking bridge building but act as a bridge for someone else. So to use your privilege for the opportunity of another, perhaps, unprivileged person and I found that interesting and helpful. Another question from the floor. Over here.

Kind of stemming from the question of privilege, there’s a tension, and unhealthy tension, I guess it would actually be a healthy tension, of because you have privilege, your voice is societally heard and received. So the person who does not have privilege, albeit if you put it in a socioeconomic standpoint, or racial standpoint, they’re received somewhat or they are pushed back with skepticism.

So for you, having the voice, because you have, at least from the surface level, the view of majority, how do you balance the tension of speaking truth, that may not necessarily come from your background or come from your privilege, and actually receive the support of people who are privileged, such as yourself? And then how do you speak to the voice of someone who may not be privileged and them actually affirm you and support the truth in which you’re saying?

Because there’s still tensions on both sides that those who are privileged have allowed or even caused the disparities of those who are not. And then those who are privileged have the means, and possibly just the fear of walking into those conversations where they’re confronted with truth. So how do you handle those two?

Thank you.

You.

Take it Stanley.

No no.

I’ve kind of said and given what I think. I want you to know though, that when I first began to speak about the death penalty, don’t you picture whole hoards of people going, oh yay, the nun’s gonna come speak about the death penalty. [chuckling] I mean, I just knew that the call was that if people could get close to see what it means for us to kill human beings that we will reject it. And that has been true; I’ve stayed with that.

Cause the whole things we don’t see the suffering, we don’t see what we do, and we go, ya the death penalty’s a good thing. So when I began though, just to see this, I can tell you, anybody who’d invite me to speak, so Saint Christopher’s Nursing Home, and they made an announcement after lunch, who wants to hear The Death Penalty Nun, go to Parlor A and these three people, and it was after lunch, I’m gonna cut them some slack, [laughing] go to Parlor A, and I began to share.

And I mean, within eight minutes, two of them are gone, I mean just gone. And this one lady was listening and I had my eyes locked with that lady, like lady don’t leave me lady, you it. [laughing] I began to speak, then I began to write, and then it eventually moved to book. I didn’t want to write a book but then I wrote a book. And then you put that out there. You do your little act and you put it out there. It was in great conflict.

People would shout me down. I mean, I’m going to give a talk and people would come in loaded for bear. And, what are you talking about? What do you know? What if somebody killed your mother? You don’t know what you taking about? Bleeding heart liberals coming in here. You know, I mean, it was fierce. But I just kept doing it and I learned how to do it better. I talked about that journey to both arms of the cross. In the beginning, I was so talking about the human rights of people who were being executed, the human rights of the perpetrator and government shouldn’t be killing, that I wasn’t really bringing people over into the suffering of the victim and my own outrage about standing there with victims.

And so I had to learn to do that. And there’s nothing like an audience and people in the discourse that help you learn to do that and so it’s continued. And I have to tell you, the hope, the hope has always been for me, that the American people are good people and given a chance to see and experience, that we’ll reject the death penalty. This is 30 years, 30 years, but it’s still fresh for me. It’s very fresh for me. You tonight, it’s like the first time I’d ever spoken, because it was you, and this is unique and this is a moment of grace now and so we just get in there and we do our best with each other and we help each other and take it from there.

I picked up in your comments, and I could be wrong, a since of the importance of class and that’s seldom acknowledged in how we are a class driven society. And class doesn’t mean you don’t have money, many people of the lower classes have money, they don’t have any taste and they are put down because of that. Some of the people that are most degraded, in our society, are white trash males.

That their powerlessness, often times, invites violence as a way of feeling empowered. So how you begin to even acknowledge that as a problem for people like us, part of the problem is we’re so damned articulate that’s a power that can disempower other people. So how you learn to, and I think the language of listen is very important, to not think that you’ve always got to have a solution, but you need to listen because you’re not sure you even know how to go on. I think is part of the vocation God has given people like us.

I think we’ve got time for at least one more. I know many of you might have questions and I’m gonna take us a little bit beyond since we started a little late so, we’re gonna go to the back first.

Ya. Thank you. What have both of you learned about living well and loving well by being in the presence of those who are dying? Either of natural causes or through execution?

I’ll just say simply, that by being in the presence of an opposed death, on a live human being, has, I mentioned earlier, it either paralyzes you or galvanizes you. That I couldn’t turn away from it and say, God that’s so sad, and that’s so wrong, we shouldn’t do that. Again the Rilke quote, more is required than being swept along, that I had to resist the deaths, awaken people so that we can change it. We should not be doing that.

That is the way it has affected me. And to just be grateful to be alive and to be awake. It’s the thing of being awake, that my eyes were brought to see this, to experience this, the privilege of accompanying human beings in the last hours, that I was the one, who would be with them. And not to make them heroes, they often had done terrible things, but to learn and to experience that everybody’s worth more than the worst thing that we’ve ever done. And the only reason I haven’t done those things is I’ve been so cushioned and protected. So it just keeps teaching me about myself.

Moderator: Stanley?

I don’t want to die alone. That’s the bottom line. I’d like friends to be there. That’s, I think, my deepest wish. And that means that I may have to know how to die when something can still be done for me to keep me alive. I don’t want my death prolonged, but I want to die in a way that those that are supporting me in life know that they can also support me in dying. And that’s what I want.

Moderator: Sister Helen?

That’s so true what Stanley’s saying. I wish the same thing, hope for myself. To die well. One of the things about becoming an agent of change in a society, is you’re so daggone good at it, see and then when you die, it’s just surrendering everything. You lose your body, you loose your consciousness, you loose your mind, you’re turning yourself over to what? And I just, deep down I’m a sissy. I am, I was that way as a kid. I was a cowardly kid.

They’d throw the swing up to me in the tree, and I was, I don’t wanna. You know the swing was there but you had to jump and I’m a sissy and so I pray that with the help of community and people praying and helping me that I maybe can die half way gracefully. I don’t know, I’m not promising anything. [laughing]

In your story though, you speak about the final moment, when Pat was executed, and you told him I want you to look at my face, the moment of your death I want the face that you see to be a face of love.

He had said to me, Sister Helen you can’t be there in the end cause it could scar you to see this. He knew I’d never done anything like this in my life. And he was really trying to protect me. And it just rose up inside me and I was strong. I mean that grace came up. There’s no way you’re gonna die without one loving face to be, you look at me and I’ll be there for you. I’ll be the face of Christ.

And that’s what happened and that was grace. And it’s not so much that I’m such a saint or have so much courage. When grace comes up inside us, we move with it, and it carries us. Later we can look back on it, or other people can say what they want, but all I know was, that was a supreme privilege, to be able to be with that man, with the six human beings that I’ve been with. And to be able to be that face for them.

And they look at me and I carry those faces. And, so boy, I’m telling you, gets me out of bed in the morning. We gotta change this thing. It’s urgent, we gotta change it, we have to do away with this killing. Much less than saying to victim’s families, you wait 15-20 years and then you get to watch while we kill the one who killed your loved one and that’s gonna heal you. It’s such a travesty, it’s just so wrong. And it needs to be changed.

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