Collective Scream

+ Isaiah 3:26 The gates of the city will lament and mourn; destitute, she will sit on the ground.

They say a collective scream broke out on the streets of Boston when two bombs exploded at the marathon finish line.

I imagine synchronized tears fell.

Simultaneously, hearts broke open.

Yes. In a sense we all gasped the same gasp and shivered in the same cold shadow of fear and disbelief as black smoke filled Copley Square.

Our eyes were already on Boston yesterday. Something about young and old, men and women, professionals and amateurs, wheel chairs and tennis shoes covering 26.2 miles… We all wanted to see this absurd, triumphant, multi-cultural jubilation unfold.

Marathons are so human. we’ve created this spectacle and sport that draws all types: competitive athletes and moms running off baby weight. Marathons attract high school cross-country stars and mid-life crisis victims. When we think of marathons- we think: they are innocent, benign, universal and community-oriented… Until yesterday.

The Boston marathon is the crown jewel. You must either qualify for the race or agree to fundraise money in order to enter. Professionals enjoyed a city-wide holiday to observe thousands of people running an unnatural distance just for the sense of accomplishment in it.

It should have been a day of too much Gatorade, paper cups littering our neighborhoods, and collective sportsmanship.

Instead, collective screams.

One more venue for terror, one less benign community gathering.

One more reason to fear, one less opportunity to trust each other.

One more city that laments and mourns, one less place of refuge and security.

News of the Boston bombings crushed my spirit. That city created space for me to fall in love, to find my first home, to answer a call to ministry, and to meet my best friends. Some of my most sacred moments unfolded in the hours I spent running along the Charles River and reading in the Boston Common.

I consider Boston my heart-home. A piece of me remains on those cobblestone streets. I owe that city a debt for the ways it shaped me and taught me to love, to trust, to grow, and to learn from my community.

My heart broke when I learned about the bombings because a place that once seemed untouchable and sacred to me is now marked by this new, hate-filled, fear-driven stain that is slowly changing our world forever.

I grieve for Boston and yet so many people have have deeper grief and sorrow. 170 people injured and counting… 3 dead- more may pass away. Boston residents woke up with a little less hope and a little less faith today.

I fear the grief will continue. More cities will be stained. Others will experience this sense of deep loss as their heart-homes become terror targets.

What are we to think in times like this? What should we hope for, and what can we pray? For me, in this confusing and dark time, this is my prayer:

Compassionate God, our hearts are broken in the wake of more violence and destruction. Boston is the latest city to sit on the ground in mourning and lament. Wrap your comforting arms around us. Draw us near to one another before we scatter in fear and suspicion of our neighbors. Remind us of the renewing spirit of hope that can rise out if any tomb or terror site. Stop us from turning our vulnerability into hardness. Hold us back from the dark shadows of judgement and stereotypes as we seek justice. Forgive us all for creating a world where children hear sirens more than alleluias. Transform our collective screams into cries for peace and tenderness on our streets again. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers. Amen.

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