Today is the Vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, my most favorite day of the weekend. The energy is apparent here. This year, it feels different to me. It may be that I am just different, but the environment this year is noticeably calmer to me. It is less angry, more hopeful, less charged and more familiar. I cannot decide if this tranquility is appropriate or not as we are supposed to be protesting. Then again, we are also participating in a funeral procession of kinds, and peacefulness should always be embraced.
As we say “Presente”, I like to imagine that we are calling upon our ancestors. We are calling upon the spirits of our brothers and sisters to be with us as we honor them. Cross-cultural researchers have demonstrated that it is common for the living to be led into ritual communication with their deceased relatives. We long for this connection out of our respect and love for those who have gone before us. I grew up in a family that commonly referred to this as the “Litany of Saints”, but I realize today that there exists a billion ways to do this. I am participating in one, and it is sacred. It is powerful. It is a necessary element for some sort of healing to take place, and although we can never completely mend what is done, we are starting new again.