Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Another Journey update

Another update from Beth, who is travelling in Texas with the Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing. The Journey will wrap up its activities next week when it converges with the annual NCADP conference in Austin:

Hi All!

This is our last day in Houston. The accomodations here have been
fantastic. This hotel has the best free breakfast buffet that I have ever seen.
They have it all and it is fresh, hot and delicious. The Drury is, according to
other veteran Journeyers, the best place they've ever stayed.

Yesterday, our team began the day at Thoreau Unitarian Universalist Church
here in Houston. Our team included two sisters, Bess Klassen-Landis and Ruth
Andrews. Their mother was murdered in 1969.

Although Ruth has joined the Journey before, this was Bess' first time. She
surely didn't seem like a first timer, as she mesmerized the audience with her
Prarie-home like talk of her utter devastation at the loss of her mother. We
learned in Ruth's talk that their 11 year old sister came home to find the naked
body of her raped and murdered mother. Ruth and Bess were spared the sight
because their sister called authorities before they arrived home. Bess was 13
years old at the time and Ruth was 16. Two days later, their father told the
girls that they needed to put on a brave face for the rest of the community.
However, Bess tells how her brave face only covered her fear of continuing to
live in the house and in the community where her mother had met such a brutal
end. The murderer was never caught and several of the suspects continued to live
in her neighborhood. She tells how her world stopped yet everything else
continued on unabated.

But, despite this brutality, she is sure that her mother's love and legacy
should not include revenge and retribution. She believes that love and hope are
the only answers to violence. She ended her speech with a song she had written
for children. I was struck by how joy, beauty and creativity were a hallmark of
Bess. Despite the tragic loss of her mother, her legacy lived on in the inner
beauty of this daughter. She so moved Abe and I that we suggested that she speak
at the evening event. She again gave an amazing talk.

The evening event was at a Catholic Seminary here in Houston. Sadly, the
event was not well-attended. A myriad of reasons were given including publicity
and the baseball game. In addition to Ray Krone and Bess, Bud Welch and Shujaa
Graham spoke -- more on them later.
Those that did not attend really missed a
thought-provoking evening.

We had to say goodbye to Ruth, Bess and Sue Norton, who were only able to
attend for the weekend.

I'm excited to hear Tracy Spirko speak today -- I'll give you the details
of her talk tomorrow.

More Later. . .

Beth Wood

2 comments:

Ansel said...

Thanks for maintaining a blog on this subject, guys. I've just created a website/blog for Campaign to End the Death Penalty Austin, and I've linked to this site. Luis Ramirez' execution is scheduled for later today, and we'll be protesting outside Governor Perry's mansion.

Keep up the good work.

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