You know your love is real when you weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. You know your love is real when you feel for others what Catherine Lawes felt for the inmates of Sing Sing prison.
When her husband, Lewis, became the warden in 1921, she was a young mother of three daughters. Everybody warned her to never step foot inside the walls. But she didn’t listen to them.
When the first prison basketball game was held, in she went, three girls in tow, and took a seat in the bleachers with the inmates. She once said, “My husband and I are going to take care of these men, and I believe they will take care of me! I don’t have to worry!”
When she heard that one convicted murderer was blind, she taught him Braille so he could read. Upon learning of inmates who were hearing impaired, she studied sign language so they could communicate. For 16 years Catherine Lawes softened the hard hearts of the men of Sing Sing.
In 1937 the world saw the difference real love makes. The prisoners knew something was wrong when Lewis Lawes didn’t report to work. Quickly the word spread that Catherine had been killed in a car accident. The following day her body was placed in her home. Three quarters of a mile from the prison.
As the acting warden took his early morning walk, he noticed a large gathering at the main gate. Every prisoner pressed against the fence. Eyes awash with tears. Faces solemn. No one spoke or moved. They’d come to stand as close as they could to the woman who’d given them love.
The warden made a remarkable decision. “All right, men, you can go. Just be sure to check in tonight.”
These were America’s hardest criminals. Murderers. Robbers. These men the nation had locked away for life. But the warden unlocked the gate for them, and they walked without an escort of guards to the home of Catherine Lawes to pay their last respects.
And to a man, each one returned.
Real love changes people.
-- From "A Love Worth Giving," Max Lucado