"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Walking After Midnight

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I just finished an incredible book, Walking After Midnight: One Woman’s Journey Through Murder, Justice and Forgiveness (Jun 26 2006), Katy Hutchison. She tells the story of her journey after her husband is beaten to death at a house party in Squamish, BC in 1997.

She embarks on a path of restorative justice, I think primarily because once the two offenders admitted what they had done, she responded to them with compassion. Her mission becomes providing lectures to school children about the dangers of peer pressure, abuse of alcohol and drugs and how small choices can change other’s lives for the better, or the worse. After he was released from prison, she included one of the two offenders in those presentations. She’s asked at one point if she and Ryan had become friends, and after pausing responds that she believed so, if friends were those who provided support and reality testing for each other (paraphrasing). While she acknowledges there will always be a divide between them, it is partly overcome by community.

She is not operating from an overtly religious framework, but is clearly more grounded in Christian teaching that lots of active church-goers. Her modelling of love for the prisoner, even if that prisoner murdered your spouse, is really humbling.

When some of my clergy colleagues (in a past diocese) would challenge me to be welcoming to gay couples (something I’ve never had an issue with), my usual response would be to ask them when they would be inviting Paul Bernardo over for dinner…which usually made short work of the conversation. Christians are typically really good at welcoming people we like being around…but the charge from Christ is to welcome the prisoner. That ultimately means welcoming the most horrific person you can imagine into your home. That is something that we manifest far more rarely.

You can maybe see this manifested most clearly in the present divide between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Network in Canada. These are, in reality, parallel jurisdictions of episcopal, liturgical, catholic churches. Yet the reality is there is little discussion or community across that split, probably because that’s exactly what happened — a split. When our unity should arise out of the one who calls us to be his own, we instead stand apart because of…well, mostly hurt feelings.

Katy Hutchinson was most surprised by the negative reaction of the media and many friends and family to her restorative response. She comments in the book that people seemed perplexed that she did not respond with the usual rhetoric of anger and vengeance. That this is the expected narrative in the case of a violent loss says much about our culture.

A moving account. Be warned, there are many points where Kleenex is mandatory.


Written by sameo416

August 6, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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