It is 6:37 p.m. and in 23 minutes a man will be dead. His name is William Earl Lynd and he brutally murdered his girlfriend in 1988, two days before Christmas. I never knew him, but that doesn’t matter now, nothing matters, because by the 7 o’clock news tonight, the state of Georgia will have executed him.
These are the thoughts that run through my head while I sit at the picnic table in my backyard ruminating on what I believe. From my seat I can see a bee feeding on a nearby lilac bush and in my hundred-year-old oak tree I see two squirrels building a home. One stops to stare at me, but quickly scampers away when a neighbor’s toddler waddles precariously by, squealing at the joy of movement and life. The sky is the clearest I have seen in a long time, but the weatherman says it will rain soon. I can feel it on the wind, but along with the threat of rain there is the sweet scent of the lilacs. It is now 6:49 p.m.
I shut my eyes and think of Lynd. I wish he could sit in this chair and see my tall tree stretched up to the sky and smell the lilacs from my newly widowed neighbor’s bush and feel, when they come, the drops of rain that muddy and clean everything they touch. If he were to sit here and see and smell and feel the world around me, he would believe, as I do, that everything will be okay in the end. I wish also that all of his victims could be here, not just the girlfriend he murdered, but her mother and father and siblings and friends and acquaintances. If they could smell the lilacs and hear the neighborhood children and understand that all these wonders were produced by billions of years’ worth of agony and destruction, see that things will be alright. It is now 6:55 p.m.
My backyard is more than just a 15 by 45 ft. plot of land that separates my house from my alley. It is an incarnation of my philosophy. I believe that after walking barefoot on the sharp acorns, dropped by my incredible beneficent oak tree, there will always be the soft grass to soothe my cut and bruised feet. Without the harshness of the acorns, how can the sweetness of the grass be defined? It is now 7:00 p.m.
The newspaper headline reads, “Ga. Man executed, ending 7-month moratorium.” The article says William Earl Lynd was pronounced dead at 7:51 p.m. on May 6, 2008. There are two bees on the lilac bush now. The rain still hasn’t come, but when it does I know that the squirrels will still dash about the trees, the toddlers will still squeal with delight, the acorns will wound, but the grass will soothe, and the lilacs will smell even lovelier. This I believe.
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