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  • Virginia and I just visited the Boston Marathon bombing memorial site.

    I have no words.
    No answers.
    Only feelings.


    Mostly held at a distance — this did not happen to me — but in waves I cannot hold the emotions at arms length and I feel them wash through me and touch my eyes.

    Vignette: A mom and daughter, holding each other side-by-side. The only comfort provided by squeezing tight. I think “The only good that can come from this is that we do not take each moment and each other for granted.”

    Why? There is no why. Only rationalization.
    Our politics, our hatred, our fears….we take ourselves down the garden path.
    Our attempts at sense remain senseless. Wrong. Amoral. Twisted.
    I find myself humble before the sacrifice and commitment showed by the first responders — the trained and untrained alike. Such fortitude to step into the fire. Where do they find it? "There is my brother, my sister. They need me. I go."

    Vignette: A group of strong, mustached men (wearing pins and badges that say LAPD and US Government) stand in a tight circle talking with a local first responder. He shares his experience and the lessons learned (and I think “this is as helpful to him speaking as it is to those listening.”) The grim-faced men listen attentively, their eyes hard as they picture tragedies in their cities, with their families and neighbors, and plan how to prevent the madness or pick up the pieces. We walk past and Virginia says to me, “Those are the people I would want to have our backs if the time comes.” And I reply, “Yes, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for all they sacrifice to be ready for us.” A warm feeling spreads through my body at the thought of being held by such a fierce commitment.

    Humility reminds me of my own judgments, my attachments to past wrongs, the events which I cannot forgive. Sure, I won’t take them to the point of building bombs, but my own hatred, jealousy, anger and judgement are on the same trajectory as these actions. Where do we draw the line? We send drones to kill women and children in some far away land. How are we not sowing the seeds that come home to New York, Boston and elsewhere? Where does this end? Is this who we are? Can’t we be better than this?
    Are we that flawed as a human race? With a sigh I suspect we are. Yet we can learn. We are learning. We do evolve. We have choice. And those choices include learning to have compassion. To practice deep curiosity. To forgive.

    Vignette: A homeless man sits on a park bench and watches the people as they laugh, cry, talk and remember. He plays Amazing Grace on his harmonica. And perhaps he thinks “They will all sleep in a warm bed tonight.”

    If we are truly one, how can we live with this? How can we live like this? What must we learn?
    This is a question not an answer.
    And it is not enough.
    It is the only truth I can truly take from this feeling in my heart. It. Is. Not. Enough.
    We walk away.
    I hold Virginia close.

    Postscript: The motto at the site is “Boston Strong.” I can see, feel and sense that this is true. They are. We are. Let us all remember this. We are resilient beings. Yet in the remembering, may we know that the path forward is paved by learning how to be truly strong without resorting to revenge. Maybe that is the possibility here amid so much loss.
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