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Aphorism

Edward LaGrone-USA-Death-penalty

The cruellest punishment

The death-penalty is only serving one goal: brutal revenge. In spite of all, the discussion about death penalty is not pointless. We need to take the argues of the advocate very serious. The pain and the trouble felt by surviving relatives of victims, is real. We have to carry on to think about sense and justice of punishment. The fear and disturbance caused by serious crimes can not by denied. But fear is always a bad adviser. The death penalty is the worst conceivable answer on this fear. The death penalty is cruel, pointless, irreversible. The death penalty gives the wrong signal: killing people because they have killed somebody. Maybe we will never manage to exorcize the primitive ‘men with bludgeon’ inside. That is the reason that we need justice. A constitutional state will punish people, but never will take revenge.

‘Texas has four hundred prisoners in death row. It goes on and on, more and more in silence, week after week. I see the newspaper daily but nowhere I read that in one month there were eight executions. It is no news anymore and seems no longer worth mentioning. In Texas (were Edward was imprisoned) there are not enough laywers to defend the people….’
Bart Stapert, lawyer for people condemned to death and chairman Amnesty International.

‘Until my body is laid to rest, I will continue to live and remain focus’.
– Edward L.Gr.

My dearest Edward

This is my last letter to you my dear friend. Nameless you were there in that isolated death row; without your number on the letter, they sent it back, deprived of any excuse. A few weeks ago, they sent back my last letter to you with ‘unknown’ on the envelope. I was prepared of the most horrible. When I did not hear anything, I started to search on the Internet site. When your number was not on the list, I knew enough. I continued my search at the executions. Here I found your name and your last statement:

‘Yes. I just want to say I am not sad today or bitter with anybody. Like I’ve said from day one, I did not go in there and kill them – but I am no better than those who did. Jesus is my Lord’.

Privileges

I kept my breath. This could not be true. People could not be this inhumane. However, people are this inhumane – you cannot do this work with an open heart. Prison guard in the death row in a state like Texas with even stricter conditions than elsewhere in The United States, you can only be if your focus is on power and suppressing yourself and others. You had fewer privileges than others did in the same situation. We could not phone each other. I could not send you even small presents, even no stamps for your letters. You were touched by a few cards I sent you. So I decided to send you posters of it. They showed them to you and send them back, how cruel! Your cell was humid and cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Only three times a week you were ventilated for half an hour. As you wrote, there were also nice guards, but they did not stay for long.

Dear Edward, I felt angry and sad at the same time. Not because you are dead. This must be an enormous liberation for you. But the way I got that information is inhumane! Did you miss the time to let me know? Then I found your last letter and red the last sentence and I knew that you knew…

It is almost three years ago that I heard about League of Life and felt: yes, I want to correspond with somebody on death row. I filled in my personal description but left out my preferences for a person. I supposed that the right person would cross my way. Elvira (League of Life) brought us together and I started the correspondence.

From the moment I got your name, I embraced your energy. I felt that I could embrace you in my love, unconditionally. There was not a single: yes but…

Test

At first, you did not show much of yourself. On the contrary, you tested me and when I did something stupid, you punished me. Rightly so, but when you got on with that I wrote you concisely; I feel sorry, I told you already. I will do my very best not to repeat this, but do you like to write with me YES or NO? You answered that you really liked to write with me; my letters were different from your other pen friends.

What, no doubt, distinguished me from others was the fact that I did not feel any pity for you. My heart was full of compassion; I did not want to be paternalistic towards you. I treated you, as I like to be treated: equally and with respect. It was not an attitude, it is just the way I experienced you.

A few months later, I started searching on the Internet site what kind of offence you had been blamed off. The most pen friends do not like to know this, but I just wanted to know for myself if this should make any difference in my feelings towards you.

Charge

The charge was not small. I took it in, little by little and…just stayed myself. Did you feel that I knew this? In your next letter, you told me that you in a state of madness murdered a girl. You felt terrible sorry for that. You were charged of more, but you said that the enquiry of DNA could prove that you were innocent. They refused. I believed this and this was the first and the last time that we talked about this kind of matter. Our correspondence was about Life and not about death.

Initially you bore a grudge against your – mostly white – guards. Also, you had an outspoken opinion about Mr. Bush. You said he was a power-mad person who would not rest until he had control over the whole world. Another American friend of mine, coming on my path after reading my book ‘Way to the Light’ had the same opinion. Not every American is as glad with Mr. Bush as the Europeans like to believe! The same Mr. Bush is a fanatic apologist of the death penalty!

Book

Yes, that is what you would like also: to receive my book. You enjoyed it much and shared what you called the wisdom of it, with a few other prisoners. Slightly you started to change. You felt grateful that I accepted you without any conditions, just what you are. Grateful that I did not feel any need to raise my finger or to judge you. Why should I, I do not think I am better than any of Gods creations!

You started to discover that there was only one person you really hated; yourself. More and more you started to embrace yourself. Your letters became milder, milder to yourself, milder towards the people around you. Incomprehension started to disappear; understanding replaced it. If I did not hear from you for a long time, I knew that you felt depressive. I understood and could accept it.

Real

We wrote about deeper things, about the real meaning of Life. When you face death, there is no space for playing games. I sent you meditations and exercises that were helpful to go through your fear and to transform this. Also I sent you the manuscript of ‘Love is All That Is’. You felt supported. You complained very often. You enjoyed when you got the space to do something for your companions. Like writing letters for them. Because you totally depended on the goodness of people around you, I sent you some money once a while. You asked me to stop this; other people could do it. For you the exercises, my love and attention were the most important things, you said.

Every now and then I spoke about you in my lectures. Sometimes people got angry, but most of the time they started opening themselves up to understand others and see their connection with All. I used you as an example to show people that all of us carry the seeds of the creator and the destroyer inside. Like in Hinduism, the God Shiva shows us so rightly! Hatred and thoughts about murdering someone is in essence not different from doing it. It is very important that people start to understand this! As long as we are connected with the material world, we think that we are separated from each other!

Most of the time people like you had a very traumatic youth. You grew up in a cold-hearted family. In addition, having a black skin in a dominating white culture has given you a lack of self-confidence; I should call you almost shy!

Admire

When we are willing to look at ourselves and start to get insight in the circle of life, we will immediately stop judging somebody else. In that respect, I admire Elisabeth Kubler Ross, one of my greatest role models in life. She imprisoned herself in Scotland and South Africa with offenders and guards. After a week, there was no difference between them. Unfortunately, she did not get permission for this in her own country The United States. She was a remarkable woman and educated thousands of people in giving death his rightful place in society. Only a very few dare to walk in her shoes…

Last December I asked you to think about writing your life story. In your last letter, you said that you always felt so encouraged by my letters: during depressions you red and re-red them. You said that you were often thinking about writing your story.

Involve

But doing this would involve a lot of others. You wanted to protect few of them, including your mother. Also, you said, not every recollection was as nice. Some things would be shocking for others if you would write openly about your life. You had to discuss this with your lawyer. This supposes that at the moment you were writing this letter, you did not know that the end of your life was so nearby.

‘I am forever healing and forgiving, because I too need to be forgiven. Life is like this huge class that never ceases to give us a valuable lesson. My life now is much better in so many ways. I feel the peace inwardly and the madness is not dominating. Yes, my life has transformed beyond my belief. This would be something to discuss with my lawyer…’

Posses

‘Here my life is quite simple, but this is good as I have come to understand what waste is! So much goes to waste! That is hard to see and understand when you become separated from the material things. It is all material clutter that keeps our mind divided and undecided of true value. Our prosperity becomes more valuable than the love between people. The more we possess, the more we want and nothing seems to fill this void. This desire leads us on a path away from Self. Once we are stripped of such things we feel we have lost a part of Self, because we allowed ourselves to continue to think such things could determine our value. Today I understand that more material gain is having less of me and that is not good. I would rather understand myself and remain focused than live in bondage of materialism.’

‘I am glad that you have come to understand me. There are those who have known me for many years but still they do not understand me any better. It means a lot to be understood and not judged all the time.’

‘You are in my thoughts and prayers my precious Yasmin. We embrace each other with love and light and endless joy’.

‘Until my body is laid to rest, I will continue to live and remain focus’.
– Edward L.Gr.

In commemoration

These days I do something I like to do in these circumstances. I look for a stone and start to carve. It is a very soft one and I worked already on it in advance. I feel a gigantic energy; it feels as if I am not working alone. The form is more or less definite; a sculpture with two personalities is emerging, two monk-like figures without faces. I realize that for me you are no longer nameless. For me you have a very clear face. I feel myself eternally connected. I nourish you in the unlimited space in my heart…

These days, during my meditations, I experience you as endless space and light.

Today I went to a friend. I gave him your photograph and without knowing you, he is revealing the following: You said that you loved me very dearly and liked to thank me for the love and support. An injection has brought you to death. This was a shocking experience; it felt like being blast off by a rocket. But now you felt FREE. You felt sorry for the things you did and you promised yourself to make it up for yourself and for her. It had all to do with redeeming karma, you said.

Your life has been extremely heavy. The last ten years you felt yourself like a cactus in a dessert. ‘But now I am free. I started already making new shoots. Life is eternal and I will return.’

You felt compassion with the land you were incarnated this time: The United States. You said The United States was in high distress and needed help. You felt compassion for al those young boys who are giving their lives for an illusion.

Surprisingly you said that you were helping me by making a sculpture! Of course, I felt this already, but I think we will even make one more together!

 

Dearest Edward

How can I express my gratefulness for the fact that you came into my life! You are a great teacher. I will miss your letters but I realize that the contact between us will happen on another scale.

Besides of that, I feel happy that you are freed of a merciless suffering. Before it was my opinion that it was inhuman to keep people in situations like this for such a long time. Now I realize that you got the opportunity – and you took it – to work out lots of things here on earth. What is worked out is worked out. No need to do it again. The only thing what is important for you is forgiving yourself. That you can do only yourself!

No doubt you have discovered what you already knew all the time: there is no punishing deity. On the contrary, God is unconditional Love, without any judgment. He embraces all his beings with the same unconditional and boundless Love.

And so constantly, we all get the opportunity, whatever we did wrong, to come home at ourselves and to make a new start. Again and again, until we are returned back into the essence of the ONEness we all come from…

In a wordless Love – Your sister in spirit,
– Yasmin

 

Epilogue

Directly after I heard about the death of Edward and the writing of his latter letter, I participated a five days woman conference. I shared my room with a woman from Israel. She arrived a few days earlier and heard already that I was an author. By being an author herself she was very curious what kind of books I had written. At that moment I could not find the right words to explain this, so I gave her my latter letter to Edward. She felt bewildered by reading it. That evening she shared the following story with me: Six years ago she was in Findhorn, a spiritual community in Scotland. She shared her room with a woman whose child was murdered several years before. At that time this woman was not only correspond with the murderer of her daughter, she even became his defender. Aphra could not understand this at all at that time. In the here and the now she got another opportunity to embrace this situation and she started to understand that every person carries the seed of a murderer and a saint inside.

 

* At the moment we could forgive ourselves we feel compassion with all that is…

May your soul rest in peace
– 27th of April 2004

 

 

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