, Newburyport, MA


December 21, 2012

A vigil for Newtown in Newburyport

To the editor:

In this historic seaport city north of Boston a gathering occurred.

A circle of people surrounded a tree of which a ring was formed consisting of 27 candles placed in bags. The snow fell gently in a spot where normally holiday cheer, laughter and carousing occurs at this time of year. This place was once the village center and hundreds of years before that the center of life for the indigenous people who lived here. For generations this place has reminded all who have passed through it that life has rhythms and cycles that often complement each other but sometimes are in conflict. Today at this very spot the open wound of a nation was exposed. We all bore witness to the mysteries of life and death and we reflected on the juxtaposition of hope and faith all beautifully interlaced in the only redeeming quality of humanity — love.

Most in attendance held hands. The young children especially provided a poignant quality to the surroundings. Knowing instinctively, but not fully understanding the gravity of the gathering, they were silent and behaved well beyond the requirement to do so in such idyllic, festive surroundings.

Individuals offered prayers, songs and pronouncements to deliver comfort and suggestions for understanding the unspeakable tragedy that befell our neighbors in a town many hundreds of miles away. Silently, snowflakes fell and after thousands of them descended on each of us, they formed a reassuring white blanket of hope. Tears fell too. Besides the distinctly perceptible sounds of random snowflakes being seared by the candle flames, there were faint whisperings accompanying subdued crying.

I have experienced all the cycles of grieving in an intense and shortened time frame in the last few days ranging from shock to denial, anger and now acceptance.

This experience validates that evil shall never triumph over good. It has also soundly confirmed for me that the mysteries of the Christmas season, which perpetually dazzles in the eyes of children, can deliver joy even in the depths of despair.

Joe D’Amore


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