Even though I’ve been staying away from blogging during Lent, I haven’t stayed away from reading and have read a wonderful book that I highly recommend. Thomas Cahill’s, “A Saint on Death Row:The Story of Dominique Green” is a moving and sensitive story of a young man who is hard to forget. As Desmond Tuto says on the jacket: “Read it and discover how even the obscenity of capital punishment can be transformed into an occasion of light and peace.”
If you have read any of Thomas Cahill’s books like “How the Irish Save Civilization,” “The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels,” or “Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter,” you may be surprised by the personal nature of Cahill’s plea against injustice, racism, poverty and the death penalty.
If you believe in forgiveness, you will be amazed at Dominque Green, who, while sentenced to death, becomes instrumental in leading most of his fellow inmates, on Death Row in the State of Texas, to forgive everyone who has ever harmed them and to ask forgiveness from those they have harmed. This image of Dominique is from a fellow Death Row inmate:
“Even when his world was crashing, he always remained cool. And really, I don’t think he was trying to be cool. He was just at peace.”
Then there is the moving encounter between Desmond Tutu and Dominique Green. I read it as tears poured down my cheeks. Archbishop Tutu’s words summarize it,
“I was humbled to be in his (Dominque Green’s) presence because I felt I was in the presence of God. This is not the monster that many would expect or think, but a human being, a human being who has grown. He’s like a flower opening and you see the petals come up, particularly when you see him speaking about his concern for others.”
The story would, obviously, not be complete without it’s moments of despair; Dominque Green was awaiting his death. As the date of his execution was sealed (October 26, 2004), Dominque watches as fellow inmates and close friends are executed, he struggles to maintain his cool and the weight of the reality presses in. But even on his last day, as he makes his way to the Hunstville Death House, as the name of Archbishop Desmond Tutu is called as a witness to his execution (even though Dominique knew he would not be there), the joy and love shows through in this young man, “A Saint on Death Row.”
Do yourself a favor, regardless of your viewpoint on the issue of the death penalty, read this book, read it twice (as I did within the past week) and you will never forget this man’s last days. But also watch this video to get a sense of both men, Dominque Green and the author Thomas Cahill.
The words on Dominique Green’s memorial stone, in the Bascilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Italy, read:
DOMINIQUE J. GREEN
HOUSTON 13 V 1974 – HUNTSVILLE X 2004
BROTHER AND FRIEND
It is the Lord who set out the steps of a man
and takes pleasure in his journey.
Though he fall, he will not be sent sprawling–
For the Lord is holding him by the hand.