Last Friday the Earham Community was rocked by the news that three students were hit by a train, one died on impact and the other two in critical condition. The following is an offering to grapple with the impact on the community as some of us experienced it that day.
We feel the familiar heart-catch when we see the headline,
But this one we can’t brush aside,
And merely send up a prayer for
unknown faces in some other city.
Someone’s loved one, yes,
but by luck, or grace, not our own.
Today the news has invaded our boundary,
of being exempt from the tragedies that make headlines.
the news starts with “Earlham Community in mourning after…”
And that is you and me.
Reporters down by the giant Nutcracker in the corner of the furniture gallery that you walked by last week to get to Roscoe’s.
Faces of the injured on CNN.
Faces you’re used to seeing at the gym,
and walking by
on campus paths.
This news is not to pray and send good thoughts from afar.
This news is news to walk in and with.
People die every day,
63 train deaths in Indiana so far this year.
We can’t stop the world for each.
We know these faces.
We share campus paths,
and library books.
We can’t stop the world at every tragedy.
We stop our campus today.
Our prayers are lifted up as we gather.
I light four candles.
One for Therese, or Tracy, as her friends call her,
One for Lenore
One for Graham
Flowers by each candle.
Yellow: Hope and healing, for two.
Purple: Lament and remembrance, the third.
We walk, prayer in each step.
only broken by the crunch of leaves
beneath our mourning feet.
Our hands join those gathered in–
with hearts beating and breaking
for heart stopped
and hearts struggling to be strong.
Barriers broken down.
I am present,
Aware to the aliveness around us,
Brought clear by the loss of life.
Tears move down my cheeks with those who weep.
Side by side in silence.
Through the pine blossoms falling from the sky,
Even the trees are crying.
As are we
as we lift up the parents with our words
and imagine the phone ringing at 1:00 am.
Becoming the night they will never forget.
A quick tight squeeze, her arm around my waist,
the world needs to slow,
when one breath stops.
I call one of my younger brothers,
the one at college thousands of miles from home,
To hear his voice and know that for him it is just another day.
Anna Woofenden 2012