The Hungry Spirit: Rachel’s Wail for a Murdered Teen

This excerpt is from The Hungry Spirit: Rachel’s Wail for a Murdered Teen, by Rose Marie Berger. The article appeared in February’s issue of Soujourners magazine. To read the whole story, click here.

Last week the body of a young woman was found near my house. She was 17 years old. She’d been murdered. The garbage men reported finding her in a supercan in the alley. For a few days she had no name. Now I know her name was Ebony Franklin.

Ebony took a bus from her dad’s apartment in my neighborhood to her mom’s on the other side of town. She never made it home.

How do we make sense of something senseless? In the days following, I prayed about Ebony’s murder. I read the news reports. I prayed for her family and whoever killed her. I tried to find order in the chaos of violence. There’s none to be found.

And yet. It is one of the corporal works of mercy to “bury the dead,” one of the spiritual works of mercy to “pray for the dead.” It is counted as a righteous act. It is an act of justice. Because what we mourn when Ebony Franklin’s body is found in a garbage can is the loss of a “way” of life, a value system that holds human dignity as sacred.

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