When you start out on something that seems promising but outside your comfort zone, you can easily lose momentum, chicken out. You hear the countering voices. What was I thinking? I am making too much of this. I’ve been feeling this about my little Traychon project, about the young man who was shot behind our house, which I wrote about just two days ago. Nevertheless, I have persisted in following my impulses or perhaps the Spirit.
The next day, when I reported my prayer vigil and encounter to the Law of Three group that had helped set all this in motion, Nina said she had been “praying on Facebook” as I was praying in my backyard and had found Traychon’s page. Way down the page, about a month ago, he had posted this image.
So much pathos and irony here. By all accounts he had been in his baby’s life and now he would not be.
In his obituary I had found some pictures of Traychon, some obviously from a few years ago but even in the most recent, he looks like a child himself.
The second evening I didn’t sit in vigil in my backyard. Instead, I invited our small fellowship group/intentional community, which was meeting at our house, to join me around the memorial tree. We sang the lovely Swedish hymn, “Children of the Heavenly Father.” Our singing felt thin and vulnerable out there next to the street at dusk.
I learned there is a community interfaith group that regularly conducts prayer gatherings at sites where violence has occurred. I asked to be put on the listserv.
Yesterday Vic and I hosted our church’s monthly Senior Brunch in our home. I spoke about the events and others talked about their own close encounters with violence in this city. Someone said there are so many violent incidents that the community prayer group can hardly keep up with them so they usually convene at sites long after the events, and it is difficult to keep going faithfully to these gatherings.
Obviously, this shooting was nothing unusual. I wondered why I was focusing so much on a single incident.
I had put together a condolence poster that people who came to the brunch signed. I included the image Traychon had posted of the father and baby, the hymn, and a condolence card. Later a few of us fastened it to the fence next to our backyard, between two “No Loitering” signs, which the funeral home owner, whose parking lot and fence it was, had put up. I hung a marker next to it so more people could sign (provided they didn’t loiter). I wanted it to be associated with us, as neighbors, rather than the friends and family of the victim, but later I wondered if it was visible enough, and if the connection with the memorial tree a few yards away, across the parking lot, was evident.
After we hung the sign two passersby went over to look at it. I invited them to sign but evidently the purpose of the poster was not clear and I had to explain. We had a conversation about the shooting. I had to think about the kind of neighbors who often pass by on this western “blind side” of my house and sometimes knock on our door asking for work or money. Who is my neighbor; the Notre Dame professors and other professionals to the north and east or the struggling folks to the west? Both, obviously.
Last evening I somewhat reluctantly went out again to my backyard. It was chilly, the wind soon blew out my lamp, and I didn’t sit long. A man in a ponytail passed by, looking at his phone. A robin dozed on a pruned-down shrub a few yards away, then hopped to a puddle in the parking lot for a drink before retiring. Nothing else happened.
Today the leader of the Law of Three group that helped me gin up my courage to do any of this sent me an enthusiastic, affirming message about my last post. It boosted my courage to keep on the path, keep listening to The Voice* rather than the doubt-voices.
*Not to be confused with the TV show whose schedule conspired to send me out on the first vigil, see previous post.