Saturday, May 10, 2008

Burma, Fort Wayne and Cyclone Nargis

Friday evening I arrived at the Allen County Courthouse Square. There was an inter-faith memorial service for the Burmese cyclone victims. There were 20 torches lighting up the grounds. Posters of Burma tugged at your heart. Photos of corpses lined up, dead children, dead livestock. People crying, homes demolished, the photos were horrific.

The media was out in force. That is because it was an important event and because it was photographic. Men in blue sarongs, round embroidered caps, women in native dress, sandals, gyms shoes, native customs, hip-hop, American casual, the dress reflected an immigrant population in various stages of acculturation.

There were 12 Buddhist monks. Most were Burmese, one Sri Lankan and others from different Buddhist Temples in town. We were all given candles t light. There was a large banner held by mourning women.

The speakers mostly spoke in Burmese. The crowd reflected the makeup of the city, Fort Wayners were supporting their Burmese brothers and sisters. The speeches were mostly in Burmese however, the grief, the crying was universally understood. The monks lead the crowd in Buddhist chants.

My friend the Rev. Terry Anderson was there. He is the assistant director of Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and the director of the Samaritan Counseling Center. He was there to offer support but they asked him to offer up a prayer.

Terry started by walking up to the monks and bowing before them. He then acknowledged the profound grief and prayed to the God of us all, the God known by many names, the god that is with us especially when we mourn. When he was done and again bowed before the monks. Rev. Anderson was the perfect representative of the Fort Wayne Christian community.

The service ended with sorrowful music and then all of the flames were extinguished.

Money will now be collected to be sent either to the “Charitable Funeral Service”, the “Independent Rescue Group” or NGOs.

While I was there I made contact with a person taking digital photos. She will be sending me copies. As soon as I receive them I will post them.


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