This week, of course, I've been praying for Boston. About 15 parishioners and community members gathered for worship on Tuesday night to offer prayers for the victims of the bombings and for peace. See the Waltham Patch piece hereI was just writing in this space last week about the Mother's Day Walk for Peace we've been invited to participate in, and now again, I'm writing about violence.
The hardest thing to understand about Monday is, of course, WHY? Not so much why God "allows" such things to happen, but the more basic question of why someone would want to hurt completely innocent strangers on a public sidewalk. I've struggled with the question of innocence; we keep describing the people there as innocent, which certainly they were. The problem is that that then carries with it the assumption that others who might be victims of violence are guilty, and that's more problematic. All of us are created in God's image, and we all have the right to live in peace, whether we are innocent or not. Just because we are. We may do terrible things, we may deserve to live behind prison walls, but we still deserve our lives.
At the same time, I don't want to skip out on my feelings, which are very real, and very hurt. The same day of the Boston bombings several friends posted on facebook about how many Afghans had been accidentally killed by the US military that same day: thirty. Thirty is more than three, but those three were our three, and it does not honor those thirty to forget our own. That fact did not offer me any "perspective," important as it is to realize that our hands also are not clean. Our prayers on Tuesday night included a plea to avoid rushing to judgment, too: I pray as well for Muslims who are now praying that it was not a Muslim who carried out the bombings, that there won't be more racist backlash and more hatred.
So what do we do?
We do what we do. On Tuesday night we gathered in such raw emotion; the thing we had to offer that day was our grief. Everything we have comes from God, and while we can't offer much back, we can offer what we have, and what we had that day was pain. Being willing to sit in pain, there at the cross, even that is a blessing: we know that God has been there in Christ. We know that God was with the people who ran toward the carnage, we know that God was with those marathoners who had just run 26 miles and then just kept on running to donate blood. We know that God is with each of us, in all the different ways we feel, even when we react differently from one another, even when I'm annoyed at my friends' Facebook pages.
We do what we do: this Sunday we baptize children, celebrate with their families, promise that we'll do all in our power to support their lives in Christ. We'll plant flowers, mow the lawn (we're going to need volunteers soon enough, as well as someone to organize our overall landscape and gardening plans), and look toward the new birth and new promise God always surprises us with. We'll sing Alleluia, since it's still Easter, since Christ is still raised, along with Martin, along with Krystle, along with Lingzi Lu and in all of our lives.