Dear Friends,

 We hope that you are safe and well.

 Today's Meditation was inspired by a newsclip on PBS celebrating the dedication of the The Embrace Memorial in Tucson, Arizona commemorating the place and event where Representative Gabby Gifford was shot as she tried to bring "Congress to Your Corner."

If you have time to watch the 6 minute interview the link is below. It highlights the vision of the creator of the memorial including its use Native American petroglyphs and bullet holes with life memories and symbols of the victims, very creatively done. A shorter version is printed for our meditation: "Together We Thrive."

We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.

In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.

We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!

With our love and care,

Ron and Jean

MEDITATION 565: "Together We Thrive:" The Embrace Memorial dedicated in Tucson, Arizona, January 8, 2021

The Embrace: January 8 Memorial, Tucson, Arizona

The January 8 Memorial, the Embrace, is a place of emotion, remembrance and Honoring the victims and survivors of the 2011 shooting at then Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ “Congress on your Corner.”

The Memorial is an embrace. In a single gesture, its landforms become healing arms protecting the inner memorial, where the story of January 8 is told. Carved into the landscape of El Presidio Park, the Memorial is a place of contemplation and reflection where visitors can honor the victims and survivors of this tragic event, who were there to engage in democracy, and the first responders who stopped the violence and saved lives. Symbols telling this story are cut and etched into this collective wall of memories, forming constellations that speak of the people who died, survived and responded on that day, and recall Tucson’s history of resilience. In the surrounding gardens, the earthforms of the Living Wall protect the Memorial. It evolves over time and changes with the seasons, yet it is timeless and spans generations, an organic landscape of stone and plants woven in a pattern that evokes ancient basket weaving. People plant seeds in its crevices, where life takes root, a celebration of Tucson’s togetherness in the face of tragedy, and a manifestation of the healing of its community.

Project Details

Type: memorial and surrounding gardens commemorating the victims, survivors, and first responders of the January 8, 2011 shooting

Size: 1 acre

Status: Under Construction / Inauguration: January 8, 2021.

Awards: International competition awarded in 2015

National Memorial and National Park Service Affiliation Bill introduced in Congress

Team: January 8th Memorial Foundation; Pima County; City of Tucson; Chee Salette Architectural Office: masterplan, landscape and architecture; Rebeca Méndez Studio: Inner memorial wall concept, design and symbols; agLicht-lighting; Jackie Kain: history and community outreach; Fluidity: water feature design; GLHN civil electrical, plumbing; Schneider Structural Engineers.

Artist Statement by Rebeca Méndez

The memorial symbolic language is directly inspired by the petroglyphs left thousands of years ago by the Hohokam in the Sonoran Desert in places like Signal Hill.

The story of the lives lost and people wounded at the hand of a gunman on January 8, 2011, in Tucson, is told through a symbolic language that embodies the values and interests held by each of the six people that died and the thirteen survivors. In addition, there are symbols dedicated to the community of first responders, Tucson’s history, and the aspirations of the community for the future, in the spirit of Together We Thrive.

Together the symbols convey the story of Tucson’s resilience in the face of the climate, conquest, segregation, modernization and violence. As well as Tucson’s industrial, technological and cultural accomplishments. The memorial symbolic language is directly inspired by the petroglyphs left by the Hohokam in the Sonoran Desert in places like Signal Hill, and builds upon it.

The gunman fired 33 rounds, killing 6 and wounding 13 people. For each of the affected I created a ‘constellation’ of 33 holes representing the voids left by those wounded and those taken from us. Some of these voids were then imbued with symbols portraying the values and interests of the victims or survivors. Each of the slain people gets 7 symbols that are personal to them. For instance, the scales of justice for federal judge John Roll, the butterfly from Christina-Taylor Green’s last drawing, or the hohokam eagle for the New Jersey snowbird Phyllis Schneck. The symbols are determined by interviews and conversations with those directly affected; family members of the slain, the ones that survived their wounds, plus extensive research into the many articles local and national media devoted to the tragedy as well as several books that have been published. Based on that I compiled visual references as well as relevant indigenous people’s symbols, including Hohokam, Tohono O’odham, Pascua Yaqui and Apache. All these references helped ground and locate the memorial visual language on local land, history and culture.

Some symbols capture the spirit of “Together We Thrive,” the community’s response in the days following the shooting, when the outpouring of grief and outrage over the senseless massacre transformed into a solidarity and togetherness felt among the people of Tucson that offered both the solace and strength to overcome the devastation. People fondly recall the loving embrace the community held each other in, especially manifested at the three memorials that had spontaneously followed immediately after January 8, 2011, where the mourning of the dead also became a shared celebration of life.

Opposite the memorial wall is the reflecting pool, in whose steps and bench seating the names of the people will be engraved opposite the symbols pertaining to them.

As a memento, visitors to the memorial can take home a blind embossed version of a symbol, which can be done by gently rubbing with one’s finger onto paper. This was inspired by my experience as a child, when my father would take me to visit Mayan temples and we would make rubbings of the glyphs onto paper with cooled charcoal from our campfire.