I left work this afternoon around 5:30, and walked home through coolish air and into a completely uncommitted evening. I dropped into Salvation Army on the way and by 6:05, was home to fall into the open arms of my favorite brown couch. I puttered for a bit, pulled on my new favorite jeans and ate guacamole and baby carrots for dinner in front of the second half of a rerun of “Stargate SG-1.”
I knew that it would be a crime to spend the rest of this beautiful evening in my apartment, but calls to a friend went unanswered, and as I was staring at my phone, trying to determine who to call next, it rang. It was my mother, who mentioned that she was planning on attending a candlelight vigil tonight to support Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, who is camping outside of President Bush’s Crawford ranch in protest to the war and to lament her son’s lost life, a life wasted by hubris. I had played with the idea of going to a vigil tonight, but hadn’t signed up or done a research as to where they were taking place. A quick googling found an abundance of vigils in the Center City area. I picked one, grabbed a candle and headed out.
I went to the vigil in Fairmount, because it felt appropriate to protest the war and stand in solidarity with a woman in righteous pain in the shadow of the country’s first Penitentiary.
I arrived at the vigil and found a eclectic collection of people, standing silently in a circle with candles and signs. There weren’t more than 80 people there, although a few more trickled in over the next ten minutes. There was a cluster of deeply tanned, much-tattooed men and women who showed up on motorcycles. Hippies, young and old. Several families, four or five young couples and individuals who arrived alone. The signs were handmade and a little crude, but they conveyed the message with more eloquence than a professional printing job would have. Two plates of liberty bell shaped ginger snaps traveled in opposite directions around the circle. I was reminded of the power of people standing silently with intention and emotion.
I had my camera with me, and considered taking pictures, but it felt inappropriate for me to take on the role of documenter or observer, when I was there to participate. When I arrived, I spotted Karin, a woman I know from the Unitarian church, who is the mother of one of my buddies, but also a friend of mine in her own right. I stood next to her and lit my candle from her’s. We stood in silence for many minutes, until she leaned towards me and said, “We need a gong or something, to indicate the end!” I muffled a giggle and said, “I’ll give it a couple more minutes, and then we go.” Then one person said goodnight and another took that as a sign to start singing, “God Bless America.” One verse of that and we all blew out our candles and headed out into the night.
More tomorrow on what I did when I headed out into the night.