Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Memorial to the Fallen in Second Norway’s Stave Church

Last weekend, the country of Norway was hit by a nightmare when a ruthless killer set off a bomb in the capital of Oslo, killing eight, and then headed to a political youth camp on the nearby island of Utoeya where he proceeded to gun down children. The death toll there was originally estimated to be 85, but has since been reduced.

In Second Life, memorials often spring up in response to tragedy, and so one did in the Second Norway region. Checking the Destination Guide was a mention of a “Oslo Memorial at Second Norway.” The entry invited the readers to “Join the conversation and memorials for the victims of the recent attacks in Oslo at the Stave church in Second Norway, an active Norwegian community in Second Life.”

The link on the Guide led me next to the docks. Checking the map, I noticed a group of residents, and headed to it. I soon came across the Stave church, a type of wooden church built in Medieval times, almost all of the original ones found within Norway. Outside the church was a Norwegian flag at half-mast, and a wooden cross decorated with ribbon, plants, and a couple flags.

Inside the church were a number of people. Some were sitting at the pews, others closer to the altar. And around the altar, a makeshift memorial had been set up. There were numerous flowers and candles of all kinds, in addition to flags and teddy bears.

People continued to drop in to pay their respects, stay for a time, then head out. There were a mix of Norwegian residents, other Europeans, and some Americans. They pondered how, in a country noted for it’s Nobel Peace Prize, could this happen, “... What kind of world is this?! Tell me!” “A cruel and sad world.” “My heart hears you, and yes, too much sickness, too much.” “But when a person can look a kid in the eye and shoot them, and laugh, having fun with it, it is sick, it is cruel, it is evil.” Someone stated there were rumors early on that this was the work of a black immigrant.

The music played at the time avoided the bouncy tunes of other places I was at that day. Among the songs was "In the Arms of an Angel":

In the arms of an Angel, fly away from here

From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear

You are pulled from the wreckage, of your silent reverie

You're in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

Some of the people paused to listen, “That’s one of my favorite songs.”

One resident, Nikita Mullery, stated, “It is allowed to put down a candle or flowers if you want to, but be sure it is not one with tons of prims in it, since many people want to put down a memory.” Others tried to comfort those with doubts about humanity’s better nature, “peace and love be with you,” “I wish you all peace and love, and healing.”

Dropping by hours later, there were still people coming and going at the Stave church, paying their respects to the fallen young and old.

The Stave Church memorial is at Norge (136, 149, 30)

Bixyl Shuftan

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