Grace notes

By Sam Patten | Nov 23, 2020

How do I think about the man who tried to kill me Thursday evening? The fact that I’m writing this column means he failed, and for that I am grateful.

Because the hospital here in Washington, D.C., was filled with COVID-19 cases, I spent the last two nights in a nice hotel. My assailant spent them in central lockup and D.C. Jail. So in addition to being alive, I got the better end of the deal.

There is no particular reason to believe I was targeted, beyond the calculations as they may have been of my stabber — who the prosecutor tells me does not have a history of mental illness. She told me he stabbed someone else 15 minutes before, around the corner. As such, he was probably on a small spree. In total, he got me twice in the head and six times in the back.

Yes, D.C., where sometime back-stabbing is not just figurative.

My objectives for the trip were two-fold: sign and file a divorce decree and sell my row house on Capitol Hill. The attempted murder made it a triple play.

The government charged him with assault with a dangerous weapon, which struck me as light. Especially when it’s coming from the same office that went nuclear on me for not filling out a form two years ago. It’s just a holding charge, the prosecutor said, encouraging me to keep her informed of my condition (I suppose if I deteriorate, that might compound the charges). Maybe I’ll have to go down there again for the trial, but I hope not.

I think about Kenosha, Wisconsin, where police were criticized and the city burned after cops shot a violent man with a knife. If one is not armed with a gun, does that mean some lower standard of stopping power should be used against them? The man in my case was a pure savage, as the semicircle of stab wounds on my back around my neck attest. As I mentioned, he was on a spree.

This past summer, I participated in a Bible study on restorative justice. I viewed this first from the perspective of a convict. Now, I am challenged to adapt all those lessons to that of a victim as well, which is harder in a way, especially for skeptics of victimhood.

One of God’s greatest powers is grace, and I saw that Thursday night. The man fully intended to kill me, but he didn’t; nor did he paralyze me (though typing is still hard so I’ll keep this short). God’s grace and a little of my own will determine the outcome.

In the case where I was a criminal, God gave me a fuller and nuanced look at my prosecutor: Robert S. Mueller attended my church. I remember looking across the aisle at him the morning after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, when he was FBI director feeling the weight that must be on his shoulders and thinking “that poor man, what’s he going to do about this?”

Years later, my thoughts about him were less charitable, but tempered by seeing also his wife and handicapped daughter. These are the times we are reminded that God’s grace is bigger than us. Any of us.

Sometimes I wonder if I lingered too long at the lessons table, but then I am reminded that everything happens for a reason.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.


If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at knox.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at knox.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (1)
Posted by: Karen A Grove | Nov 24, 2020 20:49

I’ve sat here for two days wishing I could put into words how I feel about this.  Not just the attack on your body but, more importantly, your response to it.  So, here it is, I love your heart and I am in awe of your search to understand and try to forgive.  I understand the emotions you have to incorporate into your sense of survival as I too have had a near death experience.   None of this journey is easy, and believe me this is a journey not an event.  You have been saved for a greater good.  Trust that for now.



If you wish to comment, please login.