Jeanette Stokes

Boston

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Too much. It’s too much for us to take in, and yet people of faith are called to take it in.

Yesterday was Patriots’ Day in Boston. This I learned last night in the grocery store when I ran into my friend Milton, who was wearing his bright red Red Sox shirt. He used to live in the Boston area and explained the day to me. Each year, schools let out, the Red Sox play a home game at Fenway Park, and the marathon is run. This year was also Tax Day. It is hard to know which of those might have been the target of the violence, but it is eerily like a horror movie version of the Boston Tea Party.

This morning’s news carried a story by Thomas Freeman (New York Times) about an emotional numbness that has taken hold of people in Damascus, Syria, where violence has become daily fare.

More news–a bomb (belonging to “our side”) went astray in Afghanistan, landed on a village, and, reportedly, killed 30 people at a wedding. The U.S. military response was an official version of “Ooops.”

And today is April 16, the sixth anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook was only four months ago.

If you haven’t heard, the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon began with a moment of silence in memory of the 26 children and adults who died at Sandy Hook. The race ended with its own carnage.

It’s too much. We are awash in violence. I don’t want to go numb. I feel wobbly. Periodically, I feel like I might burst into tears, which is, after all, a normal, appropriate, feeling response.

I called a friend. She reminded me that we set off explosives in the ocean all the time that make the whales crazy. Right. We seem to have low regard for creatures who are not human. And what of our regard for humans? My money helped pay for the bomb dropped on the civilians in Afghanistan.

I don’t know that the incidences of personal violence have changed much in this country over the last 30 years, but I do know that the instances of public violence are on the rise.

I’m grateful to the people who posted Mr. Rogers’ quote on Facebook. Rogers’ mother told him that when really bad news was reported, he should look for the “helpers.” Look for the people who run to offer assistance.

May our hearts stay open enough that we might feel the sadness, and the pain, and that we might still know how to offer compassion, connection, or a hand when the time comes.

(Image credit: Statue of Paul Revere in front of Boston’s Old North Church. Photo by Jorge Sacedo via Shutterstock.)

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