Today I have two birthday cards to share with you and I feel compelled to comment a bit on the events of last week, since Boston is my city and I felt the impact of the Marathon terror, up close and personal.
So, what I can I say about last weeks events? I have been feeling a nudge to blog about the events all week, but really had a hard time sitting down and actually writing about it. Boston is my city. It has been for over 20 years. First let me tell you about the tradition of 'Patriot's Day' also known as 'marathon day' to set the stage for the events. Just as Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer, Patriots day is the unofficial start to spring in New England. The snow is finally gone, flowers are starting to bloom and the kids are on the first day of spring break. The Red Sox always play a home game (early) and lots of people take the day off, although few companies give employees the day off. It is the day to go into the city, if you don't mind crowds. The marathon route starts in Hopkinton (where we go to church) and winds through many towns before finishing in the heart of the city. Our family (like so many others) would often go to our favorite spot (everyone has one) and cheer on the runners. The full 26 miles of the marathon have fans at every inch of the race.
The day is a celebration and has no religious component, nor political component. It is really just a day for spring family fun. This year, with Eric and Sarah not at home, I did not take the day off so I was at work when I started hearing chatter from people around me about injuries, hospitals and explosions. Checking facebook I saw a friend had posted a link and I read in horror about the events unfolding less than 15 miles from my office. Many of my friends had been posting photos of the marathon finish line so I knew people I cared about were in harms way. I texted those that I had known were at the finish line as spectators and was very relieved to hear back that they were okay and trying to get out of the city.
My son, Eric's girlfriends mother - Cindi was 10 yards away from the second explosion. I talked to her Wednesday and she described that she felt like she had the flu, she was still so emotionally and physically drained from the event. They were across the street and hurried to get out of the city. Her friend was petrified and Cindi had bruises on her arm from her friend grabbing hold of her so tightly as they hurried out of the immediate area. A girl I work with was running the marathon. I heard the next day that she was near the finish line and didn't finish the race. So many people near us were impacted but thankfully we did not know any of those hospitalized or killed.
Friends and family all called, e-mailed and texted us that afternoon and evening to ensure we were okay. We assured them we were safe and thanked them for their concern.
We all muddled through the next few days, going about our business but with heavy hearts. We watched the news like you all did and saw the hero's that acted swiftly to bring healing and care to those in need. A friend of mine works at the city hospitals and described the incredible scene of walking through a line of swat team members as she entered Mass General on Tuesday.
Thursday was starting to get back to normal when they released the photos of the two men. A friend I was talking to hadn't seen the photos and asked me to describe them. I said they looked like friends of Eric's, skinny boys with dark hair. I was amazed at how 'normal' they looked. We went to bed Thursday before the manhunt started but it was frightening to wake up Friday morning at 5am to the radio alarm describing the events of the previous night and the manhunt that was going on.
We are moving to Waltham in a few weeks and Waltham was one of the towns in lock-down. I sent a quick e-mail to our new neighbor and the people we are buying the condo from and told them we were praying for them. They have a newborn and a 4 year old and I was imagining that they were quite afraid as the police and swat team went door to door on the hunt.
Bob and I both went to work, not at all fearful that the manhunt or chase would spread into our work communities, but it was hard to concentrate in the office. Again, business went on, as usual, but all of us were on edge waiting for news that the suspect was captured.
As they found the suspect in a boat, we realized that this home was very close (only a few blocks away) from our new condo. The Watertown mall where the media set up is where my new Target is. It is a beautiful neighborhood, normally sleepy and suburban. On that day, it was a war zone. I watched home videos of families driving and encountering the police at the scene. It was hard to believe. It was also hard to believe that this 19 year old boy, the same age as my son, was a terrorist. The stories were everywhere that he was a pretty normal kid. I, like you, are waiting to hear what happened and why he got roped into this mess.
So today it is a week later and soon we will observe a 'moment of silence' to honor the victims. You may wonder how I feel about this as a christian. Was my faith shaken by this event? The answer is a loud and clear no. My faith was not the least shaken. In fact, my faith was strengthened. Around the world, events like this happen all the time. For generations to come and for generations behind, events like this happen. Evil exists on this earth. The fact that evil exists does not in the leaset indicate that God does not exist and abound. The bible says 'in this life you will have trouble.' Jesus had plenty of trouble. Old testament characters faced evil. Sadly, evil exists. But God's love exists as well and where evil is present, God's love is present as well. I'm sure you've seen so many images of men and woman who ran into harms way to help people. If we are simply evolved creatures, why would we go into harms way? But we are more than flesh and bones. We are created with compassion and even in the face of danger, God has placed compassion and love inside us and when we allow that to come out, we become the hands and feet of God to a suffering world.
So, how will I respond to the events of last week? Well, I won't hide in fear behind closed doors. As a matter of fact I'm more motivated than ever to be there next year. Maybe I'll volunteer to help. I am also all the more committed to showing God's love to a broken world. I hope to be more likely to listen to a friend who is hurting. I am more likely to bravely share the love of Jesus Christ with someone who I'm not sure knows Him. And I am committed to follow-through on an idea I had a few weeks ago about serving my new community of Waltham. I have been prayerfully considering how I will serve my community and learned about 'Therapy Dogs' a few weeks ago. These are dog owners who will train their dogs and bring them to places like hospitals and nursing homes to allow people to pet their dogs and temporarily forget their troubles. I used to bring Joey and Tank to my Grandmother's and all the patients would stop and look. Many would pet them and it was joyful to see the happiness a friendly dog could bring them. I am more committed than ever to get involved with the Waltham Therapy Dog organization - helping out in any way they need. I heard that therapy dogs were involved in helping those impacted from the bombings. I want to be part of the healing of our community.
So, how will you react to the bombings? I once heard that when we are hurting we have two choices. We can raise a fist at God and yell 'why could you allow this?' Or we can open our hand and ask God to help us. I pray that you will open your hand and ask God to display His love in a real and tangible way today.