Sleeping is not easy when you are not on a bed. We take our rest for granted. Homelessness is a pervasive problem in our world. We do violence everyday when we don’t consider the sleepless nights of others. I spent the first few waking hours of my second day on pilgrimage walking against the death penalty and thinking about homelessness.
To say that it was hot on my pilgrimage is like saying that Antarctica is cold. My body consistently produced more sweat than I could have ever imagined possible. The robe I was wearing felt like being wrapped in a wet sheet. Regardless, I kept on walking to my next stop…the home of the Texas Execution Chamber.
Huntsville is a typical small town. Most people work for the local company…the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church is a bastion of hope in a space often darkened by a refusal of the people to engage in serious conversation around topics of social justice.
I walked into the church and the people greeted me with open arms. I spent the first 20 minutes telling my story and then I heard from the gathered their stories. We came to a conclusion that Jesus loves us all more than we will ever know and that is the most important thing to carry with us. It was a beautiful evening. When I thought I couldn’t be moved further by their hospitality, a woman appeared with a basin full of water to wash my feet. Jesus lives in Huntsville. I met her.
Upon pilgrimaging to the Huntsville Unit or the site of the Texas Execution Chamber, I placed my hands on the brick wall. “May the cross that is on top of this place…be the cross that leads the State of Texas to stop perpetuating the cycle of violence by killing people. Make me an instrument of such peace.” I departed into the cold dark night.
The porch of the abandoned trailer was very lonely. I didn’t know if I was going to be safe or not. My phone died and I didn’t know if the folks I was counting on in College Station knew where I was. When the car pulled up, I was gushing. I would sleep in a bed tonight and arise to walk another day.
I had worried about violence and anger when I walked into Huntsville. As I laid my head down on a soft pillow, I worried about violence and anger as I thought about walking into Brazos County the next day. I prayed for God to keep me from fear. God didn’t…but I decided to walk anyway.