Matters of Life and Death

A good friend of mine recently wrote that she had attended a symposium on capital punishment:

“The conference was very emotional. Unfortunately Sister Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking and the slated keynote speaker) was ill and could not attend. Her replacement was a father who had lost his daughter in the Oklahoma City bombing. He spoke about healing and forgiveness—he has come full circle to take a stand against capital punishment. Resentment and anger almost destroyed him—until he decided to meet with the parents of Timothy McVey. He identified with their sadness, suffering and grief. Now he is a crusader for life imprisonment instead of the death penalty.”

After four near-death experiences in her own life, my friend, a professional artist by trade, now paints visions of angels that she has had since her last brush with death. After writhing in post-operative pain all night in a regional medical center, she awoke to find that she had a new compassion for those who suffer. She has since taken a position teaching art to inmates at a state correctional facility, a job in which she has found fulfillment.

Sometimes gracious works are born from much pain and sorrow and suffering. We are all broken people, yet we have the capacity to heal. In so doing, sometimes we are able to help others heal as well.


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