Monday, October 23, 2006

Halfway home!

Above: Some of the journey crew pose for a group shot after dinner at the Super King buffet.

The Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing continues. Here's the latest report from Robert Hoelscher, Journey participant and campaign coordinator for Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation:

Friday, Oct. 20 was the halfway point of the Journey. We have been to Northern Virginia, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Roanoke, and now Richmond. At this point we have spoken at over 50 events, to hundreds and hundreds of people, about how the death penalty fails America and doesn't serve victims.

During my morning jog, I ran through a nearby neighborhood. It was a modest, older middle-class enclave of homogeneous brick homes hugged by a forest of towering trees. There were no storm sewers, no curbs, no garages or paved driveways. Flags (Old Glory, Washington Redskins, Virginia Tech) and Halloween pumpkins animated porch fronts. A fellow drove by and waved to me, probably thinking I was a local. I found myself thinking that the fate of the death penalty will be decided in neighborhoods like this one. Maybe we'll see one of these residents this weekend.

At noon a number of us went into downtown Richmond for a Burma Shave/Visibility event. For about an hour, we stood on the sidewalk inviting honks of support from
passing drivers. The honks came steadily. Our informal survey concluded that
most of the responses came from people of color and young people. No real surprise. But maybe our other supporters were just too shy to honk.

Many new family members and others have joined the Journey this weekend. And of course our special friend Sister Helen Prejean will be with us tomorrow for a major event at St. Edwards Catholic Church here in Richmond.

A big pack of us caravaned to dinner at the Super King Buffet. The best damn buffet I've ever been to. We pigged out on an assortment of delightful dishes that included seafood, sushi, and Asian offerings. I did take a pass on the chicken legs, however.

After a week as part of the Journey, I am comforted by the warmth and spirit of this
unique tribe of individuals. This is like an instant family. You meet someone for the first time and you know you are connected in a special way. It's spontaneous friendship. And the joy that these folks express, the affection they have for laughter in spite of the wounds they carry with them, is truly a wonder to behold. If we could bottle what these people have, we really could have peace on earth. And end the death penalty while we're at it.

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