I spent a few days last week in Boston. The plans to visit had been made months ago, and the city’s focus on capturing the alleged perpetrators of the Marathon bombing had ended. To be honest, I felt some apprehension making the trip. Was it safe? Would the atmosphere feel tense and oppressive?
I flew in on a glorious spring day that seemed to warm as each hour passed. Myriad cherry blossom trees were bursting with flowers in delicate or deep shades of pink. The hotel was near the Boston Common (founded 1634), and after stowing my suitcase I headed for the park. Hundreds of people were on the lawns, having picnics, throwing Frisbees, clowning around, stretching out in the sun.
Not what I expected.
I was struck by the sheer force of life; life going on. Part of me wanted to shout, “Wait a minute, you’re not forgetting so quickly are you?” I knew that couldn’t be the case. Another part of me wanted to say, “Thank you for embracing life; for taking back the day. Thank you for being here now.”
The trip included miles of walking, a ball game at Fenway, Paul Revere’s house, museums, churches, and chowder. My friend and I went to the memorial on Boylston Street to pay our respects. No, this wasn’t a city, a people, who were forgetting too quickly. Not by a long shot. They were grieving, and coping, and reflecting; leaving tender messages of solidarity for those who had been touched by the violence. They were also meeting with friends, going to the park, sunning themselves, laughing, and planning. They were, simply, living.
When I got home I learned that the mayor of Boston had encouraged people to repopulate the downtown area, to support the business owners, to carry on. I was newly touched that the citizens of Boston, with characteristic hardiness and civic pride, did so. Then, on the drive to work, I listened to the resilient comments of a woman who lost both legs to the bombing, and of her daughter who lost one leg. The mind reels, the heart aches in imagining their journey. How can we hurt each other this way?
We are kind and cruel; fragile and tough. We are vulnerable flesh and mighty spirit. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Boston, as you heal from your wounds. Thank you for the warm welcome to your beautiful city even as you own a new page of your incredible history. I wish you great peace.