I don’t know what to say at times like this.
So many people have been quick with eloquent and pertinent words. Advice for talking to kids about traumatic events. Sharp and sensitive theological reflection. Aside from yesterday’s post, which is little more than an anecdote and a quote, I’ve got nothing other than a nodding head and deep sighs. Anything I think about writing feels like that Onion article after 9/11: Not Knowing What Else to Do, Woman Bakes American Flag Cake.
How do people manage to be so eloquent so fast? It takes me time to process. I guess I am an introvert after all.
But I do read, and appreciate the writings of others. And since I am all about the link love, here is a compendium of the best bits that have come to me. Many of them appeared on Facebook, so you may have seen them. They are worth seeing again. They are hopeful and thoughtful.
To Kiss the Ground — David Ensign, Faithful Agitation
David is a friend, fellow pastor and a runner. He reflects on Boston in light of his own experience of running a half marathon just the day before:
I cannot reconcile the pictures of mayhem from Boston with the joyous celebration that marks the finish of distance races. Those parties are not the only thing that runners run for, but they are the culmination of hours of mostly solitary running and they bring a simple, tired, joyous sense of completion to all that work. I think most of us who run are probably feeling a similar sense of dislocation as we contemplate the horror, suffering and loss from Boston and place those empty feelings alongside what the finish line should feel like.
I’ve seen lots of pictures over the years of marathon finishers kneeling down to kiss the ground just beyond the finish line. That’s what the finish should feel like: kissing the ground in exhausted gratitude.
God’s Love Wins: Reflections on Boston Marathon Bombing — Emily C. Heath
Emily is a friend and fellow pastor. Her theological affirmations are my own.
Five months ago we stood just yards from the finish line as our wedding photos were taken, right after we had said our vows. People walking by on the street congratulated us and wished us well. We could almost feel the love surrounding us that day. That’s what I remember most about that block of Boylston Street.
And that’s what I’m going to keep remembering. What happened today is a tragedy and I will mourn it with Boston and with everyone who has turned their hearts to the city tonight. But whomever it was who tried to blow the block apart, and who tried to forever turn it into a place synonymous with terror and pain…you don’t get to.
Stories of Kindness after the Bombing — Atlantic Wire
13 Examples of People Being Awesome after the Attack on the Boston Marathon — Business Insider
There is some overlap here but both pieces are good. They bear witness to what I posted yesterday from Patton Oswalt, which many have shared as well. The image above is from the second link: “Former New England Patriot Joe Andruzzi was spotted helping an injured woman after the blast.”
Excellent use of a phrase that has been riffed and mangled and memed to death. Whatever happened to “nothing to fear but fear itself”? The article provides a sane voice and points to just how rare events like yesterday are. We need to remember that and respond accordingly. And when we do, we neutralize the power of terrorism:
There are things we can do to make us safer, mostly around investigation, intelligence, and emergency response, but we will never be 100-percent safe from terrorism; we need to accept that.
How well this attack succeeds depends much less on what happened in Boston than by our reactions in the coming weeks and months. Terrorism isn’t primarily a crime against people or property. It’s a crime against our minds, using the deaths of innocents and destruction of property as accomplices. When we react from fear, when we change our laws and policies to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed, even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we’re indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail, even if their attacks succeed.
And two about running, my adopted sport:
Boston Bombings, A Loss of Innocence — Runner’s World
Marathon running has a long tradition of celebrating, commemorating, and affirming life. The original Olympic marathon in 1896 was to commemorate the man who carried the news of a victory for freedom. The first Boston Marathon a year later followed that idea by honoring the ride of Paul Revere, not on his actual route, but always on his day, Patriots Day in the State of Massachusetts (that’s why it’s on Monday). The Kosice Marathon in Slovakia and the Comrades Marathon in South Africa were created to commemorate the dead in World War 1. The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon affirms life after the bombings in that city in 1995. This very Boston Marathon mourned and honored the school kids who were gunned down a few months ago in Newtown, Connecticut, not far from here. Out of respect for them, the race was started for the first time in 117 years not with a gun but with an air horn.
Even without that special purpose, marathon running is a sport of goodwill. It’s the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It’s the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It’s the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It’s the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody.
I don’t think road races are as exclusive as this, but what he says is true.
The finish line at a marathon is a small marvel of fellowship. Everyone is there to celebrate how much stronger the runners are than they ever thought they could be. Total strangers line up alongside the route to yell encouragement. Bands play. Some hand out cups of water, Gatorade, even beer. Others dress up in costumes to make the runners smile. The fact that other people can run this far makes us believe we can run that far. It’s a happy thought. It makes us all feel a little bit stronger.
It does indeed.