From July 25 to September 12, 2004 a memorial stone for "UNKNOWN CIVILLIANS KILLED IN WAR" was moved by human power from Boston to New York City. I helped with this project from August 6 till the end. In the last days of Stonewalk 2004, deeply moved by the power of this experience, I wrote this tribute to my companions and our remarkable journey.


A Stone With Heart

A Stone With Heart

Around the Stone - 9/11/2004 8:45 AM

During the last week when we gathered around the stone before our morning departure or after breaks along the road, I often found myself thinking of its origins. The hard, enduring granite monument we pull was born deep within the heart of the earth. Forged in molten magma it cooled slowly into the grey-white stone now mounted on the caisson. Within its crystalline structure is recorded a bit of the history of our planet.

When I place my hand on its coarse surface I feel a connection with the earth and with the vast stretch of time that has brought this monument to its present form. As I look around its margins and see all the other hands I also feel a deep connection to those who have chosen to yoke themselves to this task. Moving this stone is a labor of love, it is work of the heart – the work of our collective hearts. For, more than our bodies, it is our “hearts” that propel this stone on its journey toward a “peaceful tomorrow.”

And there are also the many hearts that this stone represents. Hearts silenced by the untimely intervention of conflict and war. Hearts full of hope and aspiration. Millions of hearts and their stories, now mostly unknown and lost when they were prematurely stilled. In its silence and simplicity, this monument to “Unknown Civilians Killed in War” has become a custodian of those hearts.

In those moments around the stone, standing in silence, I can imagine our living heart beats pulsing outward like the circles spreading around pebbles dropped in a still pool. They flow out of our hands upon the granite surface and silently unite in the heart of this monument with the myriad silent hearts residing there and with the heart of the earth from which this stone was forged. In that communal heart our hopes and dreams and prayers are amplified; yoked to a common task and purpose – the replacing of violence with peaceful methods of conflict resolution – the end of war and its terrible costs to both civilians and combatants alike.

St. John the Divine, NYC 9/12/2005

Inside St. John the Divine

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updated - 4/2/2005
All text and photos © Bruce Nichols