This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of my cousin’s murder. Today’s visit to Donovan prison provided the perfect setting to reflect on the lessons of the past year.
First, I had never imagined that this group of “hardened criminals” was going to be my greatest source of comfort and healing. And yet, that’s exactly what happened. My cousin was allegedly murdered by the drug dealers with whom he had gotten involved. While the world of drugs – the products, the infrastructure, the code of conduct, etc. – is foreign to me, the Donovan men are intimately aware of the dynamics since they were once part of – and some even ran – that world. They have an understanding of the forces that led to my cousin’s murder, I could have never grasped without their help. And understanding can be a first step to healing and forgiveness.
Second, today, I don’t think of my cousin without also thinking of the perpetrators of his murder. And my thoughts are compassion and love to them. I know, I should be feeling anger, hurt and destructive thoughts. Heck, they took my cousin’s life! Yet, I now understand that people have to be terribly broken and hurt themselves to hurt another human being and take a life. And therefore, my cousin’s murderers were deeply hurting themselves. Wishing these murderers harm will not bring back my cousin. My only wish is to eliminate the pain and end this cycle of hurt. And that comes with love and peace. So, now, anytime my cousin crosses my mind, I send love and compassion to his murderers. I wish that, wherever they may be in the world, they feel that love and that, with time, the love may bring them to heal their own wounds.
It is this journey from hurt to healed that the Donovan men have mastered and exhibit every day. They have understood that their actions stem from their deep-seated pain and hurt. And every day, they work to clear yet another layer of this pain so they may finally feel the liberation that comes with love.
Third lesson. My cousin’s murder fueled a fire in me. A fire that guided me on a radically different path than the one I had laid out before me. The most challenging step has been to trust myself, trust this fire, trust its guidance and the unexpected direction in which it was leading me. Oh, my rational, logical, linear, engineering self has wrecked havoc as she freaked out with the myriad doomsday scenarios she played out. And yet, I have learned that true brilliance comes when I trust this burning fire within. Difficult to start doing; also infinitely rewarding. Today, I live my brilliant life in the most unexpected of places, supporting people in business and prisons to create the culture that fuels their own brilliance and growth. I’m here today because I’ve taken many trusting steps into the darkness. The deeper I traveled, the clearer the path has become. I wish this upon everyone!!!!!