Light in the darkness

Vigil CandlelightAs we live in the season of advent, anticipating the birth of Light of the world, I hear John’s words, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it.” This is a season to scour the darkness for glimmers of light.  I have written before about the witness-bearing role of the Durham ministry, Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham (RCND), which is truly a light in our city.  Duke Divinity student Christina Holder has taken part in the prayer vigil ministry of the RCND as Durham community members gather at the place of a homicide to mourn together, declare the dignity and worth of each person in our city, and to pray for peace.  I pray that you will enjoy her reflections and share your own glimpses of light in the darkness.


On the street that once represented the loss of life for a Durham family, a spray of melted wax remains on the asphalt instead of a spray of blood.  So commented one Durham community member who attended the recent prayer vigil for David Anthony Taborn, Sr., a Durham man who was fatally shot in his home in 2008. Taborn was 42 years old.

The melted wax is a powerful symbol days after the vigil. It represents the peace and goodness of the community that loved David Taborn. It is a reminder of the hopeful possibility of healing that comes through remembrance and grieving together.

Cecelia Carrington
Cecelia Carrington attended the prayer vigil to honor her son, David Taborn, Sr., who was fatally shot in his Durham home in 2008.

And that is exactly what residents and family members did several weeks ago on what would have been Taborn’s forty-fourth birthday. They gathered under the glow of a dim yellow street lamp near the apartment where Taborn once lived, clutched burning candles and let the wax fall to the road as they called out memories of the man they loved and admired.

The vigil was sponsored by the Taborn family and the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham as a stand for peace and reconciliation in Durham and as a way to help the family grieve.

“We’ve been grieving and grieving and grieving. We just wanted to do something to get some of it out,” said Cecelia Carrington, David’s mother. “Until we find out who did it and why, I’ll still be grieving.”

Durham police have not solved Taborn’s case, and today family members still wrestle with the unknowns. Carrington said she didn’t hold a prayer vigil until now because she was afraid.  But fear did not hold her back at the vigil. It finally was time to speak out.

Carrington said she was touched by the people who attended the vigil who did not know her but attended because of David.  “That makes me feel good to know that people knew him and loved him just like we did,” she said.

Wax at vigil
The candle wax on the pavement lining the street where David Taborn, Sr. was murdered is a post-vigil sign of peace.

Carrington said although her pain continues, she has forgiven the person who killed her son. Surrounded by her family and community members who are grieving and journeying with her, she is hopeful.  “I’ve got a little bit of peace now,” Carrington said.

There was singing and tears and testimony. The candles smoldered. And then all departed into the night. There was the yellow glow of the street lamp and the chatter of goodbye. As cars passed down Taborn’s street, tires rolled over the wax. A terrible act of violence will not ruin this community.

Peace, like the wax, remains.


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About the Author: Christina Holder is a student associate working with the Center for Reconciliation and a first year Masters of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School.  Christina is a freelance writer with experience reporting post-civil war stories in Liberia.

1 Comment

  1. Chris, Thanks for this insight, reflection, and bringing
    attention to “light” in the darkness. I’m reminded that “darkness”
    has never been the root problem; we just need more light. Merry

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