REFLECTION: We Need To Not Be Strangers To Each Other
Elea Kemler, Minister First Parish Church, led the Community Vigil For Healing on September 10, 2017 for healing, recognition and remembrance of four victims murdered at 80 Common Street on Friday. Below are excerpts from the Rev. Kemler’s comments. Shua Arshad, President of the Interfaith Council; the Rev. Gail Miller, Pastor, Union Congregational Church; and the Rev. Susan Gaeta, Pastor, Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran also made healing comments.
We need to not be strangers to each other. We live together in this small place. The most important and maybe the most helpful and healing thing you can do today is to introduce yourself to your neighbors, so let’s take a moment now to do that.
Since 1655 when this town was founded, or gathered as they called it back then, the people of this community have gathered in times of sorrow and loss. We gather because we need to see one another’s faces, to stand together, to face the trouble together, whatever it may be and to offer comfort to each other. We gather because we need to remember that as a community we are resilient. Together we are strong and our connections as neighbors and community members is more important than our differences - of opinion or belief or religion or any of the ways that we sometimes feel separate from each other.
Today we face the reality that violence has come to our community in a particularly painful way – four people are dead, two of them elderly, allegedly killed by a young man who was known and loved by them. We don’t understand this. We don’t have all the information.
But even if we had more information, even if we knew the details, we still cannot truly understand it. What we can understand and what we can know is that tragedy has come to the family who lived at 80 Common Street and we need to hold in our hearts the remaining members of that family and all their loved ones. We also need to hold in our hearts the young man who is accused of committing these acts of violence because he is 22 years old and something went terribly, terribly wrong in order for this to happen and we did not know, so we could not even try to prevent it or to help.
I ask you to pause for a moment in silent meditation, or in prayer if that is your tradition. Let us stand together and breathe in and breathe out and hold in love this family who has experienced such pain and loss, and all who know them and mourn for them. Let’s hold in love the Common Street neighbors, our whole community and all those beyond our town who will be impacted by this event.
May there be healing. May there be the beginnings of peace for all.