Wednesday evening.... 9/12/01

Dear Friends and Loved Ones,

I have just come home from a Candlelight Vigil on the Battle Green and was moved to share with all of you a bit of what is going on here. I am here by myself--Erik was in Memphis as yesterday's events began, thinking he was going to be home last night. He optimistically booked a flight today, now has booked one for tomorrow. But with Logan having revealed itself as a weak security link in the chain of airports, it is unclear when it will open again So we wait.

Luke is in his second week as a Harvard freshman and classes began today. Last night he came home for a couple of hours, just wanting to see familiar things, familiar faces. He has a new friend who is half-Palestinian and she is frightened of the backlash, has other friends who have friends who lost parents in the WTC collapse. I suspect there is no one who is unaffected.

I got to the Green about 5:45 and shortly thereafter the bells of the three churches closest to the green began to ring. There was something about the tolling of those bells, long, slow, echoing around the green that deeply underscored the reality that brought us there. Perhaps three or four hundred people gathered. The Green is in the middle of Lexington, Massachusetts, a large green triangle of grass-covered, park-like land. It is the site of the first battle of the American Revolution, re-enacted each year on the Monday closest to April 19, the anniversary of the 1775 battle. Though visitors and townspeople cross it each day, it is acknowledged to be "sacred ground."

It certainly felt like sacred, prayerful ground tonight. The vigil was put together by the Lexington Inter-Faith Council--I heard about it via e-mail, the woman next to me said it had been announced in Mass that morning at St. Brigid's. Between us we encompassed the breadth of communication in the early twenty-first century. The crowd was a mix of ages, a mix of ethnicities, a mix of religious belief. There were Hebrew songs and "Amazing Grace" and in between songs and silent prayers we heard from pastors, ministers, and rabbis. One pastor had just eighteen months ago moved from Washington DC where her daughter was in day care at the Pentagon each day. Another minister had waited all day for word of his nephew who was in school just blocks from the WTC. A third had lost a member of his congregation on one of the flights out of Logan. The head of the Interfaith Council had also asked a Lexington resident who heads the citywide Muslim community group to speak. Perhaps the most important word he said was "we," including all of us and himself in that we.

At one point the minister from Grace Chapel read from this morning's Boston Globe the names of those we know were on the United and American flights that went into the WTC. A very incomplete list, but as he read, he asked us to remember them and to think about those they left behind, all the wives and husbands and children and mothers and fathers and friends and fellow workers. I was thinking about that, the image, of course, going through my mind over and over of that United flight, a hurtling black silhouette against a blue New York sky, slamming into the side of one of the towers. A moment of so many deaths.

And it suddenly occurred to me that there was another group of people left behind as well--the mothers of the hijackers themselves. Perhaps they also had wives and children, but it was their mothers I thought of then. Mothers have through time been told by their governments, their religious leaders, perhaps even by their sons themselves, that this kind of death was to a greater glory. But I don't believe that deep inside these mothers bought the claims of extremist religious groups. Deep inside they were mothers and they had to be grieving, I knew, for those lost sons.

We finished up the vigil with lit candles and "America the Beautiful." It was good to be there. It was incredibly sad to have a reason to be there. I don't much care for this world into which I am delivering my eighteen-year-old son. I also trust in the generosity of his heart to try to do it all differently. I have to hope that there are enough other hearts around the world who want to do the same.

Good night,

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