This past weekend, a woman was beaten to death here in Nashville. I don't remember reading about the police finding her body on Monday or the fact that they could not identify her. She was found on the 4th of July though and there was a lot going on. On Wednesday morning when they were finally able to identify her, I learned in a staff meeting that she was a friend of mine. She was a graduate of Magdalene, two-year residential communities for women who have survived lives of abuse, addiction, prostitution and violence.
Rosalyn was a beautiful woman who overcame huge obstacles to reclaim her life and become independent. She was a quiet learner and dedicated in her life of prayer. I remember one afternoon going to bless her home after she had over two years clean from life on the streets and in jail. She was so proud of all she had accomplished. I remember that she was unwavering in her desire to stay clean and sober and was a hard worker. Rosalyn had endured a difficult life and consequently made some rash choices, but she was a survivor and dauntless in her recovery. In her last year she suffered the loss of her job, her home, her car, and almost all of her worldly possessions before she was murdered.
This loss is a painful loss, and as the news is sinking in, I find myself grieving for more than my friend Rosalyn. I grieve for all women who are still suffering on our streets, vulnerable to being beaten beyond recognition and even to death. If we allow ourselves the privilege of grieving Rosalyn, there is the possibility that our hearts can break with all the heaviness in this world from the senseless violence and private suffering. But there is also the possibility that our grief will embolden us to love more powerfully and work more diligently in our efforts to be about healing. My heart goes out to Rosalyn's family and to all her sisters in Magdalene who loved her.
Today we will mourn her with much respect and fond memories. We will celebrate the years she knew clean and sober and all the gifts she offered our community. We will hold each other a little closer and worry about other women who are walking the streets tonight. We will pray for the mystery of recovery to take root and bring them home safely. And we will continue to work hard to be witnesses to the truth that in the end love is the most powerful force for change in all of our lives. And we will continue to go and speak our truth in the alleys and in the prisons and in religious communities about how it is that the life of a beautiful child of God like Rosalyn ended so senselessly and how we can all make use of our sadness by bringing women home.