The kitchen window at the Rectory looks out at a War Memorial. It’s lit up at night, when I stand at the sink doing dishes, making coffee. I’ve never lived in the shadow of a War Memorial. It makes one more aware of history, how the dead - and the conflicts they died in - are still a part of present life.
Chuck and I visited the Memorial our first weekend in residence. We read names of those who served – and died – in many conflicts: the War of 1812, Vietnam, the Civil War.
The dedication reads: “Newtown remembers with grateful prayers and solemn vows her sacred dead [and] her honored living who ventured all unto death that we might live a republic with independence, a nation with union forever, a world with righteousness and peace for all.”
I wonder, often, what this town was like during the Civil War. I just picked up a book by a local historian on the history of slavery in Fairfield County. I look forward to learning more.
This grand old house, as I understand it, was built just after that terrible, bloody conflict ended. (1870? 1890? I’ve also seen 1867.) What was the supper-time conversation - within these walls - about the state of this nation when the paint, the timber was still fresh?
The division of that Civil War, the original sin in this great nation of slavery … we see today this ancestral pain continue. People in the streets this summer – this summer of what the Episcopal Church in Connecticut calls “twin pandemics.” COVID19; and racism. The connection between the two: the disproportionate death toll in communities of color.
There is such a sense of grace and space in this home with its high ceilings and tall windows. We wonder: who were the people who slept here, drank morning coffee, prayed for loved ones? Who witnessed other pandemics, other wars; hoped for a better future??
I’ve never lived in the shadow of a War Memorial. It reminds you history is still with us.
Friday is 9/11. We pause, and remember that day of unspeakable loss. 2,977 lives. We remember where we were, who we were. We know, in our bones, the importance of remembering. People of Newtown, you know, in your bones, the importance of remembering. Bearing witness: we carry memories. I know, in my bones.
We may also pause, as we reflect on 9/11, to seek – and we cannot fully comprehend! – to acknowledge the growing toll of those lost to COVID19. Almost 200,000 Americans, and the number grows every day. In the absence of national mourning, leadership, how can we fathom such a loss? How can we bear this witness? Where do we go from here, as a nation?
We offer to God these twin pandemics, and our own personal losses. Our profound concern about our nation. We bear witness to its past, and we endeavor to live into our hope of justice, of health, of equality and freedom yet unattained by many. From our Book of Common Prayer, a prayer for the social order:
“Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart (and especially the hearts of the people of this land), that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The Rev. andrea castner wyatt
The Rev. Andrea Castner Wyatt is honored to accept the call of Trinity Episcopal Church to serve and lead as Rector. She looks forward with joy to walking with the people of Trinity Church, and to discovering with you what Jesus is up to in Newtown, CT. Contact Rev. Andrea at email@example.com or by calling 203-426-9070.