Lac-Mégantic Memorial – Benicia California, Rev. Dr. Mary Susan Gast

We remember those who died and those who grieve and those who heal and rebuild in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.  On the evening of July 10, 2014, Benicians For a Safe and Healthy Community gathered in remembrance, bearing 47 sunflowers representing the 47 who were killed by a runaway crude oil train just over a year ago on July 6, 2013.  Our own Rev. Dr. Mary Susan Gast offered the following meditation and prayer.

Lac-Mégantic Memorial
10 July 2014

We gather today in remembrance
Of forty-seven people
Whose death came without warning, and with fiery finality,
An hour or so after midnight just over a year ago
In a small town in Quebec.
Death came without malice aforethought,  but seemingly with dire whimsy,
To those who slept in their beds,
Or worked the night shift,
Or left the bar early,
In the blast zone of tank cars running off the tracks, laden with explosive crude oil.

We gather today because the strange geography of compassion
brings what has struck far away
close to home.
We turn our hearts and our spirits to the people of Lac-Mégantic, population 5900,
who carry on in a place “where you either know someone who died or know someone who is grieving a death, where you wake up each day to the sound of heavy construction equipment, where your livelihood is at risk and where visitors come only to ask about the disaster.”
where social workers have so far met with 423 residents, from orphaned children to mourning grandparents,
where 800 jobs have been lost,
whose once serene waterfront is now inaccessible behind security barriers and rubble.

We gather today because the troubling perspective of imagination
brings what has struck far away
close to home.
We turn our thoughts and our voices to those who will make decisions about our town’s future.
We ask that they will take the long view,
That they will recall Lac-Mégantic—the town and the people—and remember that there have been 18 other derailments of tank cars carrying crude since last July,
That they will, with insight into human frailty, be aware that despite our good intentions, despite our commitment to safety standards, there are forces too toxic to be contained, standards too inadequate to defend against disaster.
That they will keep their minds and their hearts open to the future of Benicia, the town and the people, and the towns and the people uprail and downwind, the marshlands, the farmlands, the businesses, and the waterfront.

All these things we pray and do in the name of the Great Spirit of Life, Who blesses us with earth, air, and water, who graces us with creativity and community,  and strengthens us with compassion and imagination.

Amen.  So be it.

 Mary Susan Gast