Author's note: The following post is part of a series dealing with my experiences in the Jeffrey Lundgren cult and what I learned from those experiences. My hope is that my story will teach others the importance of listening to the voice of God within for their answers. Peace. cse
Of Death and Freedom
I've spent a large portion of time raging over the sins of Jeff Lundgren. Murder, abuse, lies, theft, just to name a few, have all made me feel the need for justice where he is concerned. Jeff hurt many more people than just the five Averys when he took their lives--family and friends left behind, his blinded followers who ended up in prison, law enforcement officials who had to deal with the trauma of recovering the bodies. The tentacles of this one event were far reaching and devastating on many levels. There were many years I was glad Jeff received the death penalty. He had hurt so many people. It seemed just for someone who had spilled so much innocent blood.
Then I learned from my family in Ohio that Jeff had finally run out of appeals, and the date of his execution had been set. Even though I had no personal contact with Jeff for almost eighteen years, it seemed strange I could actually know someone who would be executed on death row. No longer was I insulated from the
death penalty by some anonymous monster. This one had a face and a name, and I knew it well.
As the date for Jeff's execution approached, I began to feel a dull, queasy ache in the pit of my stomach every time I thought of his impending death. It began to dawn on me that something about this was not right. Something besides myself was speaking to me, the voice growing louder as I began to recognize it. As horrible as all the suffering Jeff had caused was, it could never be "righted" by killing him. Actions taken in revenge only perpetuate revenge. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. "Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
Jeff was put to death on October 24th, 2006. To this day I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing as Jeff lay dying by lethal injection. I was interacting with my students in my job as Pre K teacher in the Georgia Pre K Program. I can still see the clock I kept watching on the wall of my classroom, wondering if it was over yet.
The face of little Karen Avery haunted me for years. She was four when I first met her, an angelically beautiful child born into a rather common family. It was her death especially that kept me awake on those sleepless nights I could not get away from the tragedy.
In my mind's eye, I see her still, smiling her beautiful shy smile. There is no hate there. There is love. There is peace. There is forgiveness. I hear her calling to me, "Don't let my death be about revenge. I died for love. I died so that others could be set free from the power Jeff had over them. Tell your story, Cindy, because by telling yours, you tell mine." Peace washes over me.
I will never be totally free from all that transpired in my experiences with Jeff Lundgren and his cult, but I don't think I am meant to be. I believe it is my job to share my story with others in the hope they will understand the importance of relying on their own personal relationship with the Divine instead of relying on the wisdom of another imperfect human. It is in this way we are able to rise above the limitations of this world, into the freedom of the Infinite.