Up until day 23 I had without question met and received help from some of the most incredible people I have ever met in my life. Children of God without a doubt. But as my family my sister and mom who live down south helped doing road side something changed, something very incredible happened and let me add that the walk has not been the same since.
I had accumulated many miles walking off my path in North Carolina to meet with whomever called for me such as the group that invited me to the vigil the day before I crossed the border into South Carolina. Let me put it to you like this; I have not really been following the set route I planned. I have been walking where ever God directed me to walk. Some may understand this, some may think I am a quart shy of a full gallon but this is pretty much what has been going on up until this point and entering South Carolina for me was evidence that was stronger than any prosecutor's evidence that's for sure. So the morning after I attended the vigil in North Carolina, my sister drove me all the miles I had already walked which was nearly 200. This was actually enough to bring me into South Carolina, but I did have my sister stop so I could symbolically walk across the South Carolina border.
By a number of abolitionist I was told I may have trouble getting help walking through South Carolina. They believed there were people against the death penalty and all, but no one really had a connection that was solid. Well let me tell you this, South Carolina came together. A band of angels that walk this earth came to my aide like no other state has. Each and every angel as I find no other word to better describe them went far above and beyond to help me along.
My sister was a trooper for sure. She not only drove me to the border and did road side while I crossed into SC, she then drove my gear to my destination. Carol, a single mom of three offered to host me. I up until this point have not got over the fact that so many have looked beyond who I was in the past. I have people near to me in my life that can't get over the fact I am an ex-prisoner and here was a woman, a single mother of three ready to meet and great me. God is amazing I tell you. He was teaching me something very important. Anyway Carol was there waiting to received my gear. I then told her around what time I would arrive and then I was dropped off on the side of the road by my sis once again.
As I headed towards Carol's home I was called by Abe from the NCADP in Washington, DC. Abe asked where I was because there was someone out looking for me wanting to meet with me. A short time after speaking to Abe I sure enough was met by Ginny and Shelly in the photo above. Let me say when I am met by people I am probably just as nervous as they are. They are coming to meet an ex-prisoner as some folks have shared with me, so surly they are not really knowing what to expect. But understand that me being an ex-prisoner I also have no idea what to expect. Though my heart has been touched by God my mind has some deep scars. I still struggle with prisonization. One of the many symptoms of prisonization is trust issues. I have a problem trusting people. Social anxiety is another. I have problems with meeting new people, talking to new people. I relate to dogs really well. Their instincts, you know dogs will sense your fear and will let you know when they pick up on your fear. This is what you have to work with behind the walls and also when you are a lost lamb wondering the streets. Think about it. A lot of young men who's lives have been very difficult being abandoned or abused. They are in this cold world at times alone, scarred to death deep down inside. I have come to believe this is one of the reasons many strike at times killing another human being. It's out of fear. So believe me I at times am probably more nervous than those that are coming to meet me or having me stay at there homes. What has gotten me passed this, is faith.
When Shelly and Ginny pulled up to me I quickly realized I was not in any danger. They jumped out of the car and greeted me like a family member they hadn't seen in years. They instantly touched my heart offering me a drink, food or whatever I needed. Like a neon sign my thoughts were telling me to listen to them closely. Instead of walking and talking we decided to go somewhere to talk so I could hear them better. My hearing makes it difficult to clearly hear with traffic and all. So they took me to one of their homes.
We sat and talked for I don't know how long, but they introduced me to Wesley Aaron Shafer Jr. their loved one who had been sentenced to die by the state. His sentence after 8 years was changed to life without parole, slow death by the state. They showed me pictures of Wesley, some of his artwork and shared openly about his case and his life. They kept saying they didn't want to hold me back from walking but I assured them sitting with them was much more important at the moment. I kept hearing it in my heart, "listen" which I did. I believed God wanted me to hear their testimony so to carry it with me on the journey in life I have been chosen to make.
After some time, Ginny had to pick up her children. The angels in the photo. I agreed to ride with them because I wanted to film a small interview of each of them. I had no idea but they actually brought me back across the state line in North Carolina it was funny as I realized this when the camera was rolling. Shelly proceeded to cook me a fantastic meal which was such a blessing. I then spent some time with Ginny's children and their friends rapping for them it was fun; I just love kids. Eventually we got to the filming and I also got to meet Wesley's dad. I haven't found the words to express the impact Wesley's dad had on me. He was a gentle giant. He towered over me but yet spoke with a soft soothing voice. I could feel the deep rooted pain. Though your loved one may still be alive, being locked in away in a tomb doesn't make it any easier to deal with than a death as Ginny explained. Your loved one is like, buried alive. I deal with a lot of prisoners, a lot of prisoner's mother's, wife's and girlfriend's but this was one of the first times I met with a father that was still in the picture. It hit hard, really hard and very close to home for me for personal reasons. I could not help feeling for this man and his beautiful family.
We talked a bit more and then I was driven to Carol's home seeing it got late and all. On the way to Carol's home my mind was racing processing everything I had just experienced. Yea the walk took a big turn on this day and really never been the same since.
Upon arriving to Carol's I was met by her and all three of her children. They where great I really wished I could have spent more time with them. They were angel's I tell you. Her one daughter was drawing an amazing picture. She showed me other pictures she had drawn she had amazing talent. Her other daughter was on the phone talking to a friend who was dealing with a family member that was in jail. Seems like almost everyone in America is dealing with someone that's in jail or prison nowadays. Carol's son was a soft spoken young man that touched me in his own little way. I am drawn to individuals that treat me with respect and no judgement at all. He had a great energy about him, they all did.
Carol fixed me up a plate to eat, some good eats let me tell you. I felt very welcomed and safe. We talked a bit and then all went off to sleep. It was an incredible day filled with blessings.
Me and the gang. I love these kids. They brought me a mountain of joy and love.Carol and I. This is one special lady.
On this day I walked for Rickey Roberts (Florida death row)