Did you notice the above date? As I write, I recall the day. No doubt you remember where you were on that fateful morning five years ago. We were shocked. Stunned.
At 8:30 this morning I participated in the Weston service of commemoration of 9/11, which I have done in each intervening year. Today I was standing in front of the granite bench at the Weston Town Hall on which Keith and Scott Coleman’s names are engraved. I found myself remembering them, as I so often do.
Several other clergy participated in the ceremony; First Selectman Woody Bliss asked me to talk about the importance of silence and he asked me to read the Pablo Neruda poem, Keeping Quiet.
It’s a peace poem that opens: “Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still for once on the face of the earth. Let’s not speak in any language, let’s stop for one second. Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, victory with no survivors, would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers in the shade doing nothing.”
Silence has become more important to me since 9/11. I feel like I’ve listened to too many words; my credulity is stretched beyond the breaking point. I’ve become more skeptical than I thought I would ever be, and I know it’s not good for me. But I can’t help it. There have been too many lies and deceptions. I find myself questioning everyone’s motives: “Why are they saying this?” I ask myself. “What’s in it for them? What’s the real truth?”
Monsignor Grieco of St. Francis of Assisi church in Weston closed our service with the prayer attributed to St. Francis, his church’s namesake. It’s one of my favorites. “Make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy; grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
Father Grieco’s version today ended: “It is in living that we awake to eternal life.” I told him how much I appreciated it and said why it spoke to me: ‘wake up and touch eternity now.’
At our Homecoming service yesterday our choir sang the St. Francis prayer for the offering. It was nice to connect the two services. One of the central ingredients of our Homecoming service is the reading of the deceased members. This year we added the names of David Maclay, Thelma Shibosky, Dana Reeve, John Miller, Sally Swing Shelley, Carol Panish, Joe Boldt, Dorothy O’Donohue, Luther Conant, Lois Porro, Alan Senie and Wendy Hart.
We were all moved when the choir sang the wonderful Bernstein piece, Take Care of This House, with Allan Wieman in the lead; and the concluding song, It Takes a Whole Village, with Erik Paul as solo and Eric Gribin on percussion. Both songs stayed with me on my afternoon walk along Compo Beach. It was good to see you and it’s great to be back! See you soon.