Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Boston Memorials, Light and Metaphor

  It’s taken a while to be able to put my thoughts
and reactions to the bombing at the  Boston marathon
into words.  Neither I nor my family nor close friends
were at the site, but we certainly could have been. Any
of us could have been.  Images - dramatic, horrifying
and inspiring have filled the airwaves, as have the
stories. We grasp to understand the how and why of
what happened, appreciate the heroism demonstrated,
marvel at the excellence of medical care available, but
recognize the long painful road of recovery which lies

    I’ve thought about how people respond to trauma
and how I chose to respond. The night after the
bombing, most churches in the Back Bay area of
Boston were closed because they were within the
“crime scene”. The church we attend, Arlington Street
Church was three blocks from the finish line, just one
block from the closed area. The night after the bombing,
there was a interfaith vigil for healing held at ASC.
Predictably it was filled to the rafters. It felt good to
gather together, sing, reflect, hug. Many runners were
there as well as some injured. One of the songs we
sang was "I Am Willing" by Holly Near.

   My husband went to our garden and picked forsythia
and cherry blossoms to bring to the service.  His response:
look for new growth and nature’s renewal. I spent Tues.
and Wed. with neighborhood children. It  was vacation
week. My response: be with children, try to offer a little
normalcy. Listen. 

   During that incredibly compact week of news, discovery
and final resolution, events happened elsewhere in Boston.
In our neighborhood of Roxbury, there were seven shooting
incidents unrelated to the bombing,  leaving two dead.  In
Malden, a town just North of Boston, a young mother
was walking with her 9 month old.  She was hatefully
attacked because she was wearing a head scarf.
The town  came  together in an interfaith service for
peace offering support and giving a clear message:
"This is not what our city stands for". The woman
 who had been attacked spoke out boldly and
eloquently to all present including a number of us from

 And  of course many tragedies happened across the
country and  worldwide...as they do every day.

Finally on Saturday, I went to the memorial which had
been set up and was increasing daily at the foot of
Bolyston and Berkeley. I couldn’t bring myself to go
before then....couldn’t let myself go where I knew it would
take me. It was eerie to see Bolyston St. empty of people
and civilian vehicles.

As I stood there, I watched young children leave flowers
by the image of Martin Richard (the age of one of
our grandchildren) ...saw the running shoes, the affirmative
comments and banners of resilience, Boston Strong...saw
people pet the dog helpers who were there for anyone
who needed them. I also thought about  the memorials which
show up on the street corners of our neighborhood and so
many others much too often...in memory of deaths, not so
publicized, but no less tragic.
 The next day I walked to the street  memorial of the
22 year old shot and killed several blocks from our house
the day after the marathon.

 I talked to a young
man sitting on the stoop
by the memorial He had
been just down the street
when the shooting
occurred. This murder
will most likely remain

This past weekend was “Boston Shine” - an annual
citywide spring cleaning event.  In our neighborhood
a group of us helped clean and improve the
empty lot next to Hawthorne Youth and Community
where I work.  We made major progress, clearing
built raised beds,

planted flowers...
and reveled as children “discovered” creatures, like
this little snake:

Afterwards, we went inside, ate pizza, and made decorations
and musical instruments for the Wake up the Earth Parade
next weekend. 

 It felt good to gather in community.

On Sunday Clementina Chery of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute
spoke at our church.  For the last 19 years since Tina’s son
was killed, she has directed her energies into making a
difference through the Institute.  It supports survivors
of homicide victims and shares peace curriculum in area
schools. One of their major fund raisers is a Peace walk on
Mother’s Day. I’ve walked in it  for a number of years.
One of the parents from Newtown CT will speak at the
rally before the walk this year.  I can't be there in person
this year, but will definitely be there in spirit.

Finally, a last thought and image to hold. At the end of
the ASC service on April 16, we lit each others candles
while in the pews... then at our minister’s suggestion,
we  filed out into the night, crossed the street to the
Boston Public Garden and stood lining the lagoon there.
The clergy stood on the bridge looking at all of us.  We
sang. It was a beautiful scene (one captured by the 
Washington Post). But the significance for me was less
the beauty of the moment than the experience. There was
a light breeze that eve so it wasn’t easy to keep the candles
lit.  The flames kept going out, requiring us to help each
other relight them. Besides adding a bit of levity to a somber
time, I thought of it in terms of a metaphor.  It’s not an easy
task to keep the light of hope lit... and really the only way
possibleis by helping each other...and gathering in community. 

Times like these remind us to savor every moment of life’s
adventure and to support each other.

Adventure on!.....Wendy