I have not posted anything in response to the Boston Marathon because I have needed to sit with my feelings about it for a while. I have felt denial, (I ignored the link in my news feed at first), shock when I turned on the tv midday and then sadness as the extent of the horror became known. Finally I decided I needed to sit with my grief. I haven’t tried to rationalize it, and I haven’t tried to push it away. I haven’t tried to feast on the public grief and outrage either. I have listened for the real bits of news that are emerging and made a huge effort not to get hooked by all the public speculation and fear mongering that always follows such a publically tragic event.
It’s normal for us to look for meaning in a seemingly senseless act. But we are so quick, sometimes way to quick, to look for meaning in the face of tragedy. We want to ask why, when someone sets off a bomb in a crowd at what should be a joyful shared public moment. We want to know who would do such a senseless, horrible thing, and we want to know why they would do something like that. Is it a terrorist attack from an enemy of our country? Is it a mentally ill person seeking some kind of deranged recognition? What, why, who? We want to know because it might help us make some sense of our dismay, and our grief. It might help us comprehend the death of innocent people, and the injury of so many others. So many lives have been torn apart in the middle of what should have been a moment of joy and triumph.
The one thing that I have heard (and seen on Facebook) that has brought me the most comfort and made the most sense to me, in the middle of a senseless situation, is the quote from my beloved childhood hero, Mr. Rogers: “look for the helpers”. When something bad happens there are always people who rush in to help, look for them.
This is where we can find meaning, and for me that means this is where we can find God. In the faces of those who walk into the danger to help someone else, and in the faces of those who grieve, God is there. In the tears of those whose hearts are broken for another’s pain and in the tender touch of a stranger seeking to offer comfort and assistance, God is there. That means something, even when nothing else makes sense.