And so we came to the beach. As Isak Dinesen said, "The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears or the sea." Walking along the water's edge is soothing in a way that nothing else is. As we walked, our little Statue of Liberty seemed the natural destination.
As people came, they brought candles, flowers, hand-written notes, teddy bears, and personal mementos that related somehow to the events or people they knew. For days, candles remained lit - when they burned down, people brought new ones. Wilted flowers were replaced with fresh ones.
Someone brought a supply of brown paper lunch sacks and sharpie pens, and encouraged people to take a bag and write a message on the side. Volunteers then took the bags, put a bit of sand in the bottom of each one to weigh it down, and placed votive candles inside. At night the candles were lit. In the photo above, you can see the row of bags in along the seawall.
As the days went by, the flags, hats, notes and other memorabilia just kept coming. When the memorial wound down days later, the nearby Log House Museum collected something like 18 boxes of these treasures which they are preserving as part of local history.
Here are a few of the messages on the bags.
|"MAKE LOVE NOT WAR (after we get those bastards)"|
|From left: "THE LORD'S PRAYER ...'but deliver us from evil'" "AN EYE FOR AN EYE MAKES US ALL BLIND!" "STOP THE VIOLENCE! GOD BLESS AMERICA"|
There was, of course, no formal program or agenda. During the day, people were quiet, either reading what others had written or lost in their own thoughts. At night, I remember that we held lit candles and sang a few songs. Some people read poems. What I remember most, though, was feeling grateful for my life and for the connection I felt with the people around me.
"As long as you hate,
Hate is in the world.
As long as you love,
Love is in the world.
As long as you have hope,
Hope is in the world.
Choose to face the light,
And let the shadows fall behind you.
And you change the world."
A special exhibit will be held at the Log House Museum on Sunday, September 11. For more information about observances planned in the neighborhood, visit the West Seattle Blog.