The Innocents Laid to Rest

24 Jun

When the moon rose at dusk last night it looked burdened, like the head of poor mythical Atlas stooping under the weight of Earth. I had gone for a short walk, passing the church where our four murder victims will be remembered today. The street was already lined with signs to save space for the funeral cortege as I assume, or possibly the media. “EMERGENCY NO PARKING” the signs all said, though the emergency felt far behind us now. There was a quiet feeling at that hushed hour with the birds swooping low and a plane out of Logan ascending like a prayer.

I could look in the windows of the church hall and see the Gifts and Memorials Committee at their meeting. At other hours in the week this hall plays host to other groups as well, among them the local chapter of Rotary International and those following the Steps and Traditions set down nearly 80 years ago by Bill W. and Dr. Bob. Additionally, according to the sign out front, the Cloister Concert Series will take place, tonight featuring contralto Marion Dry in an evening called “Saints and other Mortals” from 7:30 to 9:00, ice cream afterward.

Just as I passed, the Reverend Thomas Brown himself emerged from his car carrying his robes for today, freshly ironed as they looked. He seemed as burdened as poor Atlas, perhaps from standing so long in these last days by the woman who was sister and daughter and aunt to the victims; yet he had such a beautiful light-filled countenance I wished I too could attend tomorrow and hear his words of comfort.

I can’t. This morning I rose at 4:30 and worked for two hours and sit now on my front porch awaiting the very early arrival of the little boys 3 and 6 who are my grandsons; and, several hours later – because teens need their sleep – the arrival of the big boys who will help me care for them while their mama keeps a vigil by a bedside.

They say we’ll see heavy rain before the sun goes down and a hard thing it is to leave any graveside in the rain. But who knows? Perhaps a cleansing rain will bring some relief for these mourners, or at least the end of the time of the first hot tears.

In this life we are again and again delivered from sorrow without ever knowing by Whose hand. But if we could see God’s face even just once I think it would look the way Reverend Brown’s face looked last night: filled with somber care, but shining; shining.

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Posted by on June 24, 2010 in spirituality



13 responses to “The Innocents Laid to Rest

  1. Steve Hines

    June 24, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Hi Terry,

    I can’t think of another thing you’ve written that is better than the elegy you posted — tender and yet appropriately reserved/dignified

    I think there are a hundred cliched phrases of comfort for every human condition. But in the midst of this heartbreaking distress I must admit I’m completely stumped. There’s simply nothing I can say. I, for one, have no comfort to offer.

    In reflection,


  2. Cathy Hansen

    June 24, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Much sorrow for your loss Terry. Your words give comfort to us but what about you?

    Maybe you can close your eyes and receive comfort by seeing the expression on the Clergy’s face>

    There is “always” someone worse off isn’t there?
    Sincere sympathy,

  3. Andrea

    June 24, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Terry, I especially liked the comment about the shining face of the rector. Sometimes you see that in a man of God and know he truly has a direct line to the One who knows best for all of us. Hot tears are appropos too for in my view, cold tears mean a lack of feeling; hot tears are passionate and full of sorrow, love and sympathy. This was so beautifully written; thank you.

  4. Marylou Carroll Gombar

    June 24, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Oh Terry, How terrible! you write with such compassion.


    June 24, 2010 at 7:37 pm


  6. cousin Barbara

    June 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    so very very sorry for your shock and sorrow…..let’s make more of an effort to visit and enjoy what each of us has to offer while we can……love you…………

  7. Walter

    June 24, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Terry, you cause me to remember back 16 months, when something of the opposite sort happened — a seemingly devoted husband and father tragically took his own life. It was similarly complicated and difficult to comprehend. In that instance, another minister up the street (whom you know well) was the one consoling the survivors, helping them with their shattered emotions, very difficult decisions re. the funeral and what to say to family, friends and the community, all having everything to do with how the family would (or would not) recover from that darkest hour when they had to choose a course forward, toward the light. No matter where one comes out on belief in a god and/or organized religion, we have to celebrate the very difficult, wonderful work that clergy do for us. As mine are packing their bags this week for a month or two of summer rest after an exhausting year, my heart is with them. And with Reverend Brown, whose summer break is deferred this year while he works to mend 20,000 or so bruised souls.

  8. gwen p. straub

    June 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    How sad and shocking for you, Terry, to know the victims of a multiple homicide, a mother and father, their daughter and grandchild, I am guessing from your description of a surviving daughter. Whoever committed this tragic crime sorely needed those 12 Steps.

  9. terrymarotta

    June 26, 2010 at 8:21 am

    how touching are all of these remarks! I will write each of you singly.

  10. Michael McGuire

    June 26, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I cannot imagine the pain and sadness … unfathomable. But know that we are, indeed, surrounded by white light, especially when we are least aware of it, but most in need of it. God Bless you.

  11. art davis

    June 26, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    How touching your comments, Terry, coming straight from your heart. You are such a wonderful writer. You remind me so much of…well, you!

    Your friends and neighbors and your family are in our prayers!


  12. Eleanor Tucier

    June 28, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I’m so sorry for your sorrow. I don’t know the greif you’re feeling but can imagine. The loss of many family members that you knew and were your neighbors must come with an unimaginable pain. The solace you could see and feel in the Reverend’s face had to be comforting. Hope to see you soon and give you a hug. Love, Eleanor

  13. Joe

    July 9, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    SOOO sad !!!!!


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Another Good Day in Rural America . . . . . . . © 2012, 2013, 2014 Ann Aikens ~ all rights reserved

Eating The Week

Week-size morsels of the stuff we eat


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