Friday, October 06, 2006


Photo by S. Auberle

Five little girls laid to "rest" this week. Five little girls in white, hand-sewn dresses whose faces we will never see. We know their names: Naomi Rose, Marian, Mary Liz, Lena, and Anna Mae. A sixth child, who has been removed from life support, may soon join them. The oldest girl, thirteen year old Marian Fisher, apparently begged the shooter to take her life and set the smaller girls free. Instead he shot her, in addition to the others. She is a hero.

The girls will lie in hand-sawn wooden coffins in a windswept, hilltop cemetery. The quiet fathers in their dark suits and the mothers in long, black dresses and mourning bonnets will also remain invisible to us. They will not parade their grief or express their sorrow to a media-hungry world. There will be no photos, no expressions of outrage and anger, no calls for reform in an increasingly violent world. There will be a request for prayers and words of forgiveness.

The face of the village of Nickel Mines will be changed. It's said that the schoolhouse where the shootings occurred will be razed. And most likely, on a clear autumn day the bearded men in their wide-brimmed hats will return and build another. They will work as one and, sharing the labor, the work will go quickly and easily. The women in their long dresses will provide food and the children will run and play, as all children do. Except for six little girls.

I watched the procession of black buggies on the news last night, as a fierce storm swept through the area where I live. Here, in this place, live another group of people who are, in many ways, not a part of this century. The Hopi Indians also live close to the land, and are a private people who cherish many of the old ways and beliefs. They believe that when their loved ones die they return as moisture--snow and rain--the most vital resource needed by the Hopi in their high desert homeland. As I watched the funeral procession, rain beat violently against my windows, sweeping in waves, bending tall pines low. It was dark as night at 5:00 p.m. Yet, I can only imagine a soft rain returning the souls of these gentle Amish children.

If ever a tragedy could have a blessing associated with it, it must be this one. To teach a world gone increasingly out of control, the meaning of control--of our emotions, our excesses, our craziness. And, conversely, a lack of control--an unquestioning faith, a quiet acceptance of what life may bring us. Lastly, and most importantly, how to forgive. A quote from the Christian Science Monitor says:

"...the Amish example of forgiveness is a reminder that real safety lies less in acting out of fear to prevent violence and more on qualities such as forgiveness that better connect people."

What else in our world do you suppose that could apply to?

- mimi


Blogger Ralph Murre said...

Thank you, Mimi, for this beautiful and sensitive writing.


5:42 PM  

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