What can we do in tragedy’s wake?

April 17, 2013
[Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts] A few years ago one of my younger brothers, Sam, in his early 60′s, ran the Boston Marathon.  My family came from all over the country to support him and watch the marathon.  We had a great time, getting on and off the crowded Green Line subway trolleys, standing on the side of the road in Newton, following the race into Boston for the finale.  We loved being together in the spring weather, marathon fans and baseball fans, because there was a game that day, out in force celebrating the pure joy of this New England day.  I expect almost every one of us in eastern Massachusetts at one time or another, whether as a runner in the race, or supporter of a friend or family member or spectator, has had the same experience.

That was the spirit yesterday, when, in the middle of the afternoon, before all the runners had crossed the finish line, with huge crowds in the Copley Square area, two bombs killed three and injured more than 150 people.  It seems unlikely the event will ever be quite the same again.

My first phone call was from our suffragan bishop, Gayle Harris, then our canon to the ordinary, Mally Lloyd, followed by Jep Streit, the dean of our cathedral.  I then called Sam Lloyd, the priest-in-charge of Trinity Church in Copley Square, and then we were in touch with the people of Emmanuel Church on Newbury Street, also so close to the explosions. It seemed there was very little we could do because the police requested only the presence of first responders in the Copley Square area.

Slowly, as the afternoon went on into the early evening, it looked as though none of our church members were directly affected. The executive director of Episcopal Relief and Development called me to see if they could help.  I heard from Arrington Chambliss, our director of the Life Together program, that all of our interns were safe.  So many of our priests and deacons in the diocese called, texted or e-mailed offering their help.  Gayle and I heard from people all over the world, also offering to help in whatever way they could.  We are so grateful.

What can we do?  We can pray, most immediately for caregivers and responders, for those who are wounded or grieving, for all who are fearful or angry.  God will show us how we can best bring Christ’s peace and healing to this difficult time if we continue to pray about what has happened, if we talk to one another, if we make every effort to include these murders and assaults with every act of violence witnessed in the last year.  How are we being called actively to bring peace to our cities and beyond?  Good can triumph over evil, but it’s going to take some work.

Ever since last fall and the murder of our own Jorge Fuentes, we in this part of the Episcopal Church have been listening to each other and bringing awareness to the violence in our cities and our country so we can find the most peaceful way forward.  Over the last 10 days I have been talking to clergy across our diocese asking them to participate with their congregations in the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute Mother’s Day Walk for Peace, and I have been deeply moved by the willingness to join in this witness (you can register to join us as a “B-PEACE for Jorge” team member by using the drop-down menu).  It is important to bring our presence to events that support a vision of peace and healing.

So many of our congregations have already opened their doors to bring their communities together in prayer.  The Spirit is moving within us, asking us to be the bearers of peace.  God will show us how.

Pray for our City of Boston and for all who have been so deeply affected by this violence.