(The following is an excerpt from one of my most favorite books: After the Ecstacy, the Laundry, by Jack Kornfield. I’ve wanted to share it in workshops, but every time a read it, I weep – it’s that moving – enjoy!)
Once on the train from Washington to Philadelphia, I found myself seated next to a… man who’d worked for the State Department in India but had quit to run a rehabilitation program for juvenile offenders in the District of Columbia. Most to the youths he worked with were gang members who had committed homicide.
One fourteen-year-old boy in his program had shot and killed an innocent teenager to prove himself to his gang. At the trial, the victim’s mother sat impassively silent until the end, when the youth was convicted of the killing. After the verdict was announced, she stood up slowly and stared directly at him and stated, “I’m going to kill you.” Then the youth was taken away to serve several years in the juvenile facility.
After the first half year the mother of the slain child went to visit his killer. He had been living on the streets before the killing, and she was the only visitor he’d had. For a time they talked, and when she left she gave him some money for cigarettes. Then she started step by step to visit him more regularly, bringing food and small gifts. Near the end of his three-year sentence she asked him what we would be doing when he got out. He was confused and very uncertain, so she offered to help set him up with a job at a friend’s company. Then she inquired about where he would live, and since he had no family to return to, she offered him temporary use of the spare room in her home.
For eight months he lived there, ate her food, and worked at the job. Then one evening she called him into the living room to talk. She sat down opposite him and waited. Then she started, “Do you remember in the courtroom when I said I was going to kill you?” “I sure do,” he replied. “I’ll never forget that moment.”
“Well, I did,” she went on, “I did not want the boy who could kill my son for no reason to remain alive on this earth. I wanted him to die. That’s why I started to visit you and bring you things. That’s why I got you the job and let you live in my house. That’s how I set about changing you. And that old boy, he’s gone. So now I want to ask you, since my son is gone, and that killer is gone, if you’ll stay here. I’ve got room, and I’d like to adopt you if you let me.” And she became the mother of her son’s killer, the mother he never had.
– From After the Ecstasy, the Laundry; by Jack Kornfield; pages 235-6
Truly a remarkable individual who met her victimization as a Creator who met the perpetrator as a Challenger and with remarkable results!
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