A crowd gathered in Market Square on Dec. 21, lighting candles, singing songs, and saying prayers.
At the top of the steps, 18 tents stood as silent sentinels to the memorial service.
The blue and grey tents were topped with a cheery lime green, seeming ready for a camp out.
Each tent represented a homeless man or woman who died last year in the Fredericksburg area.
More than a tent
The tent was a fitting symbol, said Rabbi Michael Weinstein. For many homeless in our area, the tent represents home. But in the Old Testament, the tent is more than a home.
"A tent is a powerful thing," Weinstein said. "It often provides identity, protection, strength, healing, godliness, and family."
He told the story of Abraham, who returned to his tent after making a covenant with God. He returned to see three men approaching. Abraham runs to meet them, bathes their feet, waters their animals, and feeds these strangers, who are actually angels.
He urged the gathered crowd to do the same, to honor and to help people who may be strangers now.
The evening ended with a benediction written by Tom Wray, a homeless man who has been deaf since birth.
Afterward, many of the crowd headed to The Community Cafe, a new effort from Micah Ecumenical Ministries. The cafe is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1016 Caroline Street. It's a pay-as-you-can restaurant, with a suggested donation of $10 in support of the trainees working in the kitchen, healthy food options for those in need and the cultivation of community. The food is delicious, and the menu changes monthly.
Please take a moment to honor the men and women who died this year. They are: