Tuesday, November 01, 2005

all saints' day

Today is All Saints' Day. For my those of my faith, it is a day of remembrance.

2,040 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since the beginning of the war in March 2003. 247 soldiers have died in Afghanistan. Today, after a noon Healing Eucharist, we at St. James's stood on the steps of the church and read aloud the names and ages of every one of those 2,287 soldiers. It is almost impossible to imagine how large a number that actually is until it has been broken down one by one, life by life. While one of the steeple bells tolled a single note over and over, we began reading in turns at 12:45 P.M. The bell stopped as we finished reading the list at five minutes to 3:00. The sound of names and ages tumbled into the air like dead leaves kicked up by the wind.
A few passersby stopped and stood for the better part of an hour - some even longer - listening and absorbing. Others avoided passing directly in front of the church. Still others walked by with eyes on the ground and hands dug into pockets, kicking through the leaves that had begun to pile up without so much as a hint of acknowledgment. The effect of this ceaseless barrage of names was an alternating current of numbness and overwhelming sadness. Some moments so real and immediate, even urgent...other moments sounding like a freight train rushing past, unable to slow or stop.
I don't know how else to describe the afternoon other than to say it was one of the most authentic experiences in which I've ever taken part.

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