I was asked by a local paper to write something in response to what happened in Boston yesterday, here it is:
One of my favorite writers/preachers, Fredrick Buechner, once said, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
Terrible things happen. A person or people decided to bomb runners and those that love them. Three are dead, many more are maimed, lives have been altered by violence forever.
For most of us it is impossible not to experience some amount of pain as we hear the story about an eight-year-old boy who waited to congratulate his father at the finish line. The boy is dead. He finished the race of life before his father finished the marathon. It was not his time. This was not God’s will. And quite frankly I wonder where the hell God was.
But I wonder that when I hear about a young man entering a school with guns a’ blazing and massacring children and their teachers who try to protect them. But I wonder that when I hear about bombs that “miss” their targets and take out weddings in foreign lands. But I wonder that when I hear about two teenagers who shot a baby in the face not far from here while trying to rob the baby’s mother. But I wonder that when…
This is not God’s will, shame on those who dare say so. If this is God’s will then this God needs to die. Where the hell were you God? Where the hell are you? Why is there pain? Why is their suffering? Why does evil run amok in this world? Why do children suffer at the hands of us? Why are our hands so covered in blood? My God why have you forsaken us?
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” Sometimes I forget beautiful things happen. I see the terrible things. It is said that a child needs at least ten positive things said of them to counteract the effects of one negative jab. Maybe we are just wired to see pain easier.
Right after this happened something Fred Rogers once said on his show filled the web. “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” I was somehow gladdened that millions shared that image of Mr. Rogers with that quote. “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
There was a man who rushed into the chaos after the bomb blasted. Carlos Arredondo, his story is here: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/16/17773869-the-man-in-the-hat-at-boston-marathon-finish-line-carlos-arredondo-didnt-set-out-to-be-hero?lite
He is a helper who has lost his children to violence and did a beautiful thing at a terrible time. The story says he was shaking afterwards. Medicine tells us that should happen, but for a moment he was not afraid. He ran toward it, and it was a beautiful thing.
My God have you forsaken us? It feels that way sometimes. It feels that way with every ounce of my being. Jesus said the same thing when the moment was at its darkest. I am not sure I find comfort in that, but at least I know that Jesus understands what we feel, or, to say it better, has felt what we have felt. God has experienced God forsakenness. God knows what it is like to wonder what the hell is going on, that happened on the cross.
But a beautiful thing happened later. Jesus came back. Do not forget that he bares the scares of that Friday from long ago. They do not go away. Pain is real. Violence leaves its marks. Lives are altered forever. People are dead. But God is not done, even if I cannot feel God near at all. “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are an Easter people and hallelujah is our song,” once claimed John Paul II. “This is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” Thanks Carlos. Thank you to all you first responders. Thank you to those who do their awful and sacred work in hospitals and with dogs searching for bombs. Thank you those who will seek peace from violence. Thank you people that say enough is enough. Thank you for the god that dies so a truer God can rise in its place. This was not God’s will, but as I look at it again, I see those who do the will of God. The helpers. It is beautiful. And by God’s grace, I will not be afraid.