Innocent on Death Row
Roger McGowen has been on death row in the USA for nearly 30 years for a crime we know he did not commit. Yet his is not a story of bitter recrimination and anger, but of compassion and forgiveness. ForgivenessDay6-1He refuses to see himself as a victim, instead expanding on the theme Richard Olivier offered yesterday – What if everything in my life happened for a reason? – and so begins a journey of spiritual awakening. The Swiss author Pierre Pradervand wrote a book, Messages of Life from Death Row, a compilation of some of the letters Roger wrote to Pierre and a few pen-pals during the years 1990-2009. It has become a source of inspiration and spiritual guidance to many across the globe with its messages of deep spiritual understanding.
Messages of Life from Death Row provides a living example of how we can transform even the most dire of circumstances into an opportunity for transformation and flowering of the soul. Imprisoned on death row in Texas State Penitentiary, for a crime he did not commit, Roger McGowen's situation was seemingly hopeless. Kept in terrible conditions, with virtually all compassion stripped from his day to day life, Roger could so easily have given up. But he believed that God had a perfect plan for his life, and has now become a beacon of truth, hope and inspiration for many. Roger spent years on death row before receiving his first visitor. Often submitted to cruel sensory deprivation, his only lifeline was with his correspondents. From 1997 onwards, they included Pierre Pradervand, who sent Roger a copy of The Gentle Art of Blessing . After reading it, Roger started to ask for blessings for everyone around him, and gradually, a weight lifted from him. Roger's letters - which form the foundations of this book - reveal the blossoming of a soul, a spiritual transformation that led him from rage and victimhood to compassion, forgiveness, gratitude and unconditional love. As Pierre Pradervand says: 'There is a flipside to the astonishingly dehumanizing practice of capital punishment: the equally astonishing discovery that every now and then a death row inmate rises far beyond what could be expected of anyone caught in such an environment and becomes a symbol of hope for us all.'