Dear President Trump,

I finished Just Mercy last night, the book by Bryan Stevenson I’ve told you about before, and was so moved by the final story he shared. He was finishing up at a courthouse in Louisiana after a marathon day when he saw an elderly black woman sitting on some stairs. She smiled at him and motioned for him to come over and when he did she congratulated him and told him he’d done good. She patted the step next to her and he sat down and asked why she was there, if she’d lost someone or was the relative of someone on trial. She told him no, she wasn’t there for any one person but that she’d been coming to the court house for the last fifteen years since her grandson was killed. She’d found she felt no relief when his killers were sentenced to life in prison and after the verdict sat in the courtroom, completely traumatized. She said a woman she didn’t know came and sat with her and held her while she cried for two hours. She said the woman spoke every now and again but mostly was a solid, loving presence she could lean into. She said she continued to feel incredibly sad about so many young lives having been lost when her grandson died and his killers were punished so harshly and she decided to be like the woman who had sat with her. She became what she called a “stonecatcher,” there to catch some of the stones people hurl at one another. She told Stevenson that he too is a stonecatcher and spoke of how it hurts to catch all those stones people throw. She said she sings to keep herself steady and maybe this would help him too. Then she gave him a peppermint candy and said goodbye.

Reading this passage after watching Cooper Anderson’s interview with Stormy Daniels and hearing about the stones you all have been hurling at her helped me reaffirm how I want to be a stonecatcher rather than a stone thrower. Jesus is probably the go-to cultural example of a stonecatcher, but Bryan, Emma, Sam, Naomi, and this lovely old woman who comforts people she doesn’t know are all awe inspiring stonecatchers. Right now I just sometimes catch a few pebbles. It’s a start. It’s not nearly enough, but it’s a start. You could stop throwing stones. It wouldn’t be nearly enough, but it would be a start.

May we be safe from stonethrowers.
May we be happy to look to the stonecatchers.
May we realize we can all catch some pebbles.
May we realize we can all put down the stones we somehow find in our hands.

Tracy Simpson

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