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A narrow path

BACKSTORY | Lessons on hiking, grieving, and hoping

Guards watch over a single cell area at the Harris County jail in Houston. Eric Gay / AP

A narrow path
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LAST YEAR, after writing about the growing trend of exonerations, Grace Snell got an email from a reader encouraging her to look into the problem of trial backlogs and overcrowded jails. Her story, “Justice delayed,” in this issue, details what she learned. As part of her reporting, Grace spent an afternoon with the reader and one of her close friends. Their sons are also friends—and ended up getting into serious trouble together. The circumstances could have driven these women apart. Instead, they chose to let it draw them closer.

These women get together often to support each other. You wanted to join them in one of their regular activities. Where did you go? Both women love spending active time outdoors and often meet up to walk or hike together. That time became especially important after their sons’ arrest. In November, I tagged along for a brisk hike up Georgia’s Stone Mountain. It was a lovely fall day, and we were just in time to catch the sunset at the peak. We spent the whole trek talking about the path they’ve traveled together since their sons first landed in jail.

What was your biggest take-away? I was deeply moved by both women’s unshakable faith in God despite the grief and uncertainty they faced. At the time of our hike, both their sons’ cases were still unresolved. One has since been sentenced to prison. The other is waiting on a plea deal. I was also touched by their genuine concern for each other even though their sons had competing legal interests as defendants charged in connection with the same crime.

Their sons were kind of pitted against each other in the judicial system. How did they navigate that? These women had been friends for years. After their sons’ arrest, they agreed not to discuss the details of the cases with each other. But they also committed to meeting together regularly and praying for each other’s sons. They can offer a unique level of support and understanding to each other as moms walking through the same heartbreaking experience.

What spiritual lessons have they learned on this journey? Both women told me they’re clinging to the Lord’s sovereignty. After her son’s arrest, one of them came to Stone Mountain and knelt down in the dirt to cry out to God. She said God has since answered that prayer by strengthening her through other believers, especially through her friend, whose company she describes as “a little bit of heaven on earth.” Along the way, we also talked about how they’re learning to let go of control and trust their sons’ lives to the Lord.

Leigh Jones

Leigh is features editor for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate who spent six years as a newspaper reporter in Texas before joining WORLD News Group. Leigh also co-wrote Infinite Monster: Courage, Hope, and Resurrection in the Face of One of America's Largest Hurricanes. She resides with her husband and daughter in Houston, Texas.


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