Collected tears

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photo-001I have been struggling all week with today’s blog post. Monday’s post went up in the early afternoon, before the tragedy in Boston, and the post scheduled for Wednesday was on the topic of reconciliation, which felt appropriate to post, but here I am, at nearly 2 on Friday afternoon, and I still don’t have anything that seems right to share for today.

The truth is, this Boston thing has shaken me. Partly because I’m from New England, and Boston is “my city.” Partly because I have numerous friends who live there, and many who were involved with the marathon in some degree or another. Partly because I have loved ones who are runners and have run or are working toward running the Boston Marathon. Partly because it was such a beautiful, perfect day, and in some naive part of me, beauty and evil just don’t mix.

Monday found me home in New Hampshire for a long weekend visiting my mom and my sister and her family after the recent arrival of my niece. I literally spent the day cradling the tiny body of my 13-day-old niece and chasing after my two young nephews, and the news of the attack sent a shudder through my body. What kind of world are we raising our children in? was my first frantic thought. What will I tell my 8-year-old when she asks me why everyone is talking about Boston?  

The only answer I can give is that this is a broken world, marred by sin, by that line between good and evil, which runs through the heart of every one of us**. This world is one in which too many people live every day “in the valley of the shadow of death,” rocked by violence and destruction, wrecked by poverty and lack. And yet this is the world that that God “so loved… that he sent his only begotten Son.”  This is the world where people ran toward the bomb explosion on Monday’s sunny afternoon, in the hope of saving others. This is the world where I get to jump on a plane and fly a thousand miles away to spend days snuggling a sweet newborn.  This is that very same world.

And even though Boston is in lock-down today, leaving that beautiful, vibrant city a ghost town, and even though West, Texas, was nearly blown off the map by a terrible explosion two days ago, God does not leave us alone to muddle through all of this. God sees our tears, counts them, even. And the Holy Spirit works mysteriously, even through such things as the lectionary, whose assigned Psalm for this Sunday is that old favorite, and source of so much comfort in times of trial: the 23rd. For all of this, and so much more, I am grateful.

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Caren Swanson

Top image by Caren Swanson. Lower image created by Caren Swanson, with the original photo by flickr user 55Laney69 used with permission via Creative Commons.

** “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” 
― Aleksandr SolzhenitsynThe Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

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