Thursday, June 30, 2016

The valley of the shadow of death, near and far

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death ...

So reads Psalm 23 in the the King James Version, and so it was read at last night's vigil for Amanda Phillips. Here's more ...

I started this whole post with a musing on her vigil. And then I added another one. Two vigils for people killed in Cambridge over the last few days.

Amanda's was the second vigil. The first took place on Tuesday in the Port neighborhood where Anthony Clay was shot and killed over the weekend.

She was the cyclist killed by a truck while riding through Inman Square last week.

To put it mildly, these are a time to pause and reflect.

At her vigil, a ghost bike painted white, wreathed in flowers, was strapped to a post. Candles strewn at its feet. A pastor led us song and prayer. People spoke of her memory. I didn't know her but as a fellow biker, there is a personal component to her death. Run over by a truck while riding her bike. There but for the grace of God ... That sort of thing.

The vigil for Clay was on Tuesday, starting with a meeting at the Margaret Fuller House and then a walk down Harvard Street to the place where he was shot. I didn't know Clay either, and I regret not getting down to the meeting and the walk. The Port is a richly diverse community, one of the best in Cambridge, and it has faced its share of gun-related traumas over the past year. I wish I'd taken more time out my day.

Even in Cambridge, death visits us in these ways.

But this grim posting doesn't end there. Today is also the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, a World War I slaughterhouse. I am reminded of this by my friend Anthony, who wrote recently that his grandfather was killed on the first day of fighting, July 1, 1916, along with 16,000 other British soldiers. Ponder that for a moment. 16,000 soldiers in a single day. The battle lasted until November of that year.

In the wake of Brexit, these recessed family memories of the British and the French and the Germans must loom even larger. There was a reason Europe joined together in the first place, they seem to say, and they add, "Never more." I suspect the recent Remain vote included the disquieting chill of the shadow of death hovering over their national shoulder, neither here nor gone. And then the admonition, Never more.