Tuesday, on the going-down escalator at the Porter Square T, I stood a few feet behind a construction worker and read each and every decal on his hard hat as if everything he’d stuck on there mattered. A several-stories-long escalator, I had plenty of time to observe my obsessive taking-ALL-those-decals-in—and to remember how, when caught up in a leading*, I’d been just as obsessed, just as confused (and humbled) by how in the world would I ever make meaning of It All.
I was on that escalator because I was going to Suffolk Superior Court to support a friend at the trial of two men accused of murdering his son and his son’s girlfriend two years ago. So that decal-reading moment was a moment of grace: I was reminded that, unlike the times I have shown up in courtrooms in support of friends on trial (or, in a couple of instances, in support of people of color in racial profiling cases), this case was different. This “showing up” requires a moment by moment discernment not unlike a leading, an in-depth searching for Spirit and That of God in everyone—including the two accused men. And the police.
Early days still (jury selection began last Wednesday and ended Monday; yesterday the jury spent most of the day on a field trip to see the crime scene) and, literally, scores of witnesses yet to testify (I believe I overhead that the DA had 125 lined up), my making-meaning ain’t.
But here’s what I know so far:
“Nobody wins,” my grieving friend observed last week; his gesture included all of us in that shabby courtroom: himself, his son’s family, the girlfriend’s family, the jury, the bailiffs, the judge, the lawyers and, yes, the two short, burly young men seated a few feet away from us who’d allegedly murdered his son.
The word “allegedly” is useful: It reminds all of us that our species curved that arc of the moral universe closer to justice when we decided that accused people were innocent until proven guilty.
More next week.
* A prompting, a nudge from Spirit.