Orange Ribbons - Indianapolis

October 20, 2021 • Betty Brandt

“Life is a sacred circle. When we gather in a circle, the praying has already begun. When we gather in a circle, we communicate with each other and with Great Mystery, even without a word being spoken.”

Randy Woodley, Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth

My breakfast table routine centers around NPR, a paper copy of the Indianapolis Star and my cell phone. Between bites of eggs and toast, what jumped out at me this morning was the story on page 2 of the Star – “Two dead after two weekend shootings downtown.” That was followed by the story on page 5 – “Man fatally shot on North Grand Avenue.” The number of gun homicide victims in Indianapolis in 2021 keeps climbing.

My heart breaks again and again for the family and friends of those who died. To these loved ones, it doesn’t matter the circumstances of the death. Their loved one is more than a number. Their dear loved one will be missed as the holidays approach and there is an empty chair at the dinner table. Their dear loved one was a father, mother, sister, brother, niece, nephew, or cousin.

This continual heart break led to the creation of the Orange Ribbon Project at St. Luke’s. Its purpose is to pray for the families and friends of the deceased people. Members of the St. Luke’s community are given a name and two orange ribbons. The name is written on both ribbons. One ribbon is tied on the Orange Ribbon tree in the island by door #1 and the other goes home as a reminder to pray. So far, we have given out 200 names and ribbons.

On Sunday, October 10, 2021 at 10:30am we also said their names. Think how important it is to you to remember by name your loved ones who have died. We gathered out in front of the main sanctuary doors by the Orange Ribbon tree. Mike Elliot welcomed those who attended; Bambi Dupree-Alridge sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” Then we went around the circle and each person said aloud the name of a deceased person. A sacred silence fell as we finished, and Bambi closed the service with prayer. We all went our separate ways but now we are bound together because we have, as a community, stood in a circle and acknowledged out loud the grief of our brothers and sisters who live just a few miles away. We cannot turn our backs. We cannot be unaware of the pain.

You can read the names of those who have died. You can see their faces. Some are in their 70’s; others are as young as 12. Some are part of the Sikh community who died in the FedEx shooting. All of them are precious in God’s eyes. This makes them precious in your eyes too.

Here is a list of all the 2021 Indianapolis gun homicide victims.

This site offers additional information supplied by the family and friends and is constantly updated.

Don’t turn away. Let your heart break as mine does.

Betty Brandt