Residents of Duncan started their path back to normalcy Friday might when more than 300 people — men, women and children, black and white, young and old – assembled under a setting sun on the grassy playground of Plato Elementary to honor the life of Christopher Lane, to comfort each other and to reaffirm the strength and compassion of a good Oklahoma community.

The college baseball player from Australia, whose girlfriend Sarah Harper lives here, was fatally shot a week ago less than a half-mile from the school.

Those who gathered, stood among friends in the open field, brought lawn chairs for the 55-minute program, huddled under shade trees or sat on playground equipment.

They hugged, they cried and they shared.

They reached out to families most don’t even know.

They sang together hymns, listened to scripture, held hands in prayer, reflected in silence, talked about the senselessness of it all and heard messages of healing and hope for the Lane and Harper families and for the community.

It was a solemn, respectful, reverent and even eloquent occasion.

It was a reflection of the community we call home, of caring, concerned people startled by the recent events but anxious to help, to comfort and to support.

That many lingered on the school grounds after the formal ceremonies ended to extend conversations or simply visit did not seem surprising. Nor did that several walked or drove the short distance to the nearby makeshift memorial to see and feel humanized messages symbolized by bats, balls, American and Australian flags, signs, flowers, jerseys, crosses and candles.

Christopher Lane, one speaker said, was not from here, but he is now, and forever, one of us.

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