Retiro Gardens, Madrid, March 11

11 March 2005

A little girl rides past on a tricycle clutching a packet of crisps and an old woman wipes tears away and puts her hanky back in her pocket. It is almost silent here but for the clanking of metal on metal as workmen dismantle the stage where the king and mourners had stood.

I am sitting on a low wall next to the memorial hill that has been created in memory of all the victims of terrorism. In Retiro gardens, a few minutes from Atocha station, the sun is out and spring is in the air.

A slow path winds round to the top and all the way up there are trees, olive and poplar. There is a tree for every person killed in the bombings. 192.

Under some, people have placed photographs, flowers, candles. Under others there is nothing but earth. I wonder at the silent trees and think of the families, and friends who have imagined their loved ones into the leaves. It has become real, here in this grief. This is not academic. People are giving their hearts.

Under one olive tree there is a note 'everyone who reads this message please take a minutes silence to remember the dead.' I stand, dazed and clear at the same time. I am exhausted from the summit. Four days of racking my brains for answers, for ways to understand, here is a place for silence, for the silent vows we make to ourselves, and to each other.

The people here have lost loved ones but they have not lost love. To see the old men climb the slope together with tears in their eyes brings them to mine.

There is one photo half way up of a young man, twenty something, who looks South American. On the edge of the path, close to the grass so as not to get in the way, a family grieves. His family grieves. I can see the resemblance in the eyes that stare out from the paper.

This is where we know what love is. This is where we can reconfirm our commitment to it.

I have my Summit terrorism bag slung over my shoulder. The seam is breaking already. It is weak nylon but I feel my heart strong and my brain working for it.

I do not know what will come of the world, I do not know what will come of this Summit.

Yes there are politicians and Kings and perhaps we do not trust them. People will always be greedy for power. But out of these days an understanding has grown and a commitment that is not hollow, has deepened.

I speak for myself, on a personal level. Whatever the statesmen and women do, whatever treaties are signed, being here has strengthened my resolve to dedicate myself as best as I am able, to life, to love and to spend my energies learning how to move myself and others in this direction.

People across the world have been meeting today to make their own commitments. Let us live them through.

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