When Did the Maker Ask Us to Build Prisons?

Under an I-35 Bridge with Saint Benezet: Safe Passage for Willie Nelson
By GREG MOSES, August 6, 2007

Friday evening around sundown I found Saint Benezet passing through Austin. He was standing on Lady Bird Lake checking out the I-35 bridge, and I asked him why.

“The Maker’s favorite son Willie is driving this way, and I want to make sure he’s okay,” said the famed Saint of Le Pont d’Avignon as the palms of his hands cupped a beam. Then he asked me why I was looking so puzzled.

“Well,” I said. “Isn’t Willie coming to town on a marijuana mission? Won’t he be raising money for a bunch of folks who are pro pot?”

“Do you think that bothers us?” asked the young saint as convoys of freight trucks flew overhead. “Didn’t The Maker make grapes, too?”

I tried to remember when any god was last reported to be denouncing wine.

“On the other hand,” said the young saint, “when did The Maker ever ask you folks to build prisons.”

As he moved to the next beam, I recalled that he was always a plain speaking saint, telling powerful people what they needed to do next. If there was any divine directive to build more prisons for marijuana offenders, he would say so.

“And what are you doing here?” he asked.

“I came to talk to the river,” I replied.

“You mean the lake?”

“Okay, the dammed river,” I grinned.

And he grinned, too.

As Saint Benezet glided West towards the bridges at Congress Avenue and Boulevard Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar, the water rippled with a cool breeze. In the wind, I heard him singing, “Les musiciens font comme ça. . . .”

Note: Willie Nelson headlines the Austin Freedom Fest at The Backyard near Austin August 10, with proceeds going to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), and the Women’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM).

Greg Moses is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. When not speaking with saints on water, he attempts to keep up with demands of a heteronomous will. He can be reached at gmosesx@prodigy.net.

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