VOICES OF COMPASSION heard on the street

HOURS AFTER THE SEPTEMBER 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Sentinel staff editor Bettie Gray and photographer Ari Denison went out into the streets of Back Bay Boston to ask people for their responses to the events of the day.

Robert Yearwood:

People basically are looking for words of comfort, For myself, I look at what I do just to be there for people and to assure them that all is well. I think we're in good hands— God's. This is a tragic thing that has happened, but prayer heals all things. And we ask that God heal them.

The questions:

What response you have to this tragedy?

Is there a spiritual answer that comforts you?

Can that answer, or your prayers, help others?

Adelaide LaBraico:

I was going to church to just sit there for a while, and I was not happy to find it closed. [I go there] to feel a feeling of something greater than yourself or [the events of] today. It's quiet. It's a sanctuary. And you feel comforted in some way just being there. You try to deal with your own anger about feelings and the people who are involved in this. I think that prayer helps. And I couldn't quite explain how ... it certainly doesn't hurt anything. And you pray for everyone.

Dermot Wesley:

I... hope that something like this would never happen. I don't even have words to express myself right now to know how I feel. I have a lot of family in New York City. I've been trying to reach them, with no communication at all

I'm listening to the news, and I was just looking at this emblem just now in the paper, this emblem here: "International Peace Day." It's a tragedy to see something happen on a day like lost something.

I'm a Rastafarian. The Bible––and its great message–is a refuge and rallying point for all humanity. [The] people who are involved in these terrible acts right now...are probably just thinking "revenge" instead of thinking "peace and love for all humanity, all races, all color." So try to seek God and foremost in all these atrocities and horrific things that have been happening.

What is going to give me comfort when I reach home tonight, to take up my Bible and read some section in it that will give me some comfort in myself and others who have felt this terrible blow. I would just open it and try to see an appropriate page or scripture. Proverbs or Psalms would give me some comfort. All I can say for the moment is, let us seek God. Faith can move mountains.

Ann Van Dusen:

These kinds of events really take us back to our basic connections. Not just any specific nationality or any specific faith. But...back to the fundamental roots of what it means to be a human being,... I believe, created in the image of God. And what does that really mean? We are really all connected, and the distinctions that we have between each other... they aren't real. I guess the real struggle is how do you hold on to that in our contemporary lives? Sam Lloyd, who's the rector at [my] church, says in one of his sermons that God's plan is always "Plan B" ––taking a broken world and working with that for reconciliation and peace and redemption. I've been thinking a lot about that.

Listening, spending time, just offering our presence [to those affected]... I think that's a very good gift. I'm a firm believer that prayer helps, whether the person you're praying for knows it or not. I think that, certainly, prayers help us quiet down enough to listen. And I think that even if somebody doesn't have faith, just taking time away from the media, away from the hype and hysteria... I think God speaks through those connections.

Bernard Lee:

I'm speechless. I'm really sorry for those people who got killed and injured in this incident. I guess I never thought what I can do. What's done cannot be undone. And I think we can just look forward, look ahead, and see what we can do on our part to alleviate the pain and agony of those people related to this incident. I know how it feels to lose a person close to you, so I guess, personally, I can offer a lot of comfort–––comfort and condolences.

But the thing is, when this happens, it's just not right–––there's something wrong. It's not supposed to happen.

October 8, 2001

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