On July 24, we moved Leaves that had been covered by a Rapid Ride bus shelter at Third Avenue and Virginia, and added two more.
We were blessed to be joined by so many at our Leaves of Remembrance Dedication on Third Ave b/w Virginia and Lenora. Frenchy French’s brothers (Charles and Craig) came over from Walla Walla; Bill Jarboe’s nephew Mark, his high school friend Katie, and many from St. Paul’s Episcopal also made very moving remarks.
From Rev. Pat Simpson’s Ritual: “We are gathered here to remember people who were homeless in our community who had a connection to this neighborhood. We recall words from the prophet Jeremiah many centuries ago:
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
which was brought upon me . . .
Today we bear witness: The sorrows and struggles of people living without a home are not nothing. The lives we remember today had courage, community, love, and hope. We will not let them be forgotten. Cultures and religions all over the world have traditions and rituals to honor ancestors: an altar at home; daily prayers. Cemeteries have gravestones with the names of the dead and the years of their lives. Visiting there, perhaps bringing flowers, or going to a place where ashes were scattered, is an act of comfort for the living.
Beyond these personal connections, communities try not to forget. Schools, parks, streets and buildings are named in honor of the dead. Even movie stars get their names on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. National holidays remind of us of those who died in wars, that continual plague of violence that kills and wounds not only soldiers, but civilians too. Movements like Black Lives Matter say the names of the murdered. These threads tie us to the past, and also bring people together in determination to build a more just and peaceful future.
The Homeless Remembrance Project reflects these traditions here in Seattle, laying down Leaves of Remembrance so that people who endured homelessness will not be forgotten. Friends and family don’t forget, yet even for them this physical honoring – this place to visit or to picture in the mind – is meaningful. The words some of you will speak today are part of that. You know, in real stories and experiences, the impact of a life.
But these Leaves also stand against the larger community’s forgetfulness. Honoring individual people’s lives, by name, in public places around the city, is an act of witness. These lives had meaning, and they will not be swept away like tents, made disposable and invisible.”