I love Boston. When I was a kid, my mom and I took my cousin to Boston University and left her there. I got to go to a game at Fenway Park and got to eat an Italian sausage for the first time. Sensory overload. My mother, who grew up not far from Boston on Cape Cod, knew the city and taught me to love it--not by telling me over and over how cool it is, but by letting me experience coffee shops and restaurants, baseball games and street vendors, parks and sidewalks, and by getting lost in downtown traffic and laughing about it.
Two summers ago, I took my son to Boston. Of course we did the Haymarket/Quincy and historical stuff and of course I forced him to eat clam chowder, but we also parked at “the Pru,” walked up to Copley Square to eat muffins and bananas with our coffee and hot chocolate. My son got to experience why Boston feels like a small town. It’s like a community of strangers where people aren’t afraid to be social and talk to you like they know you--a perfect stranger bought our breakfast that day. When my son realized where the bomb exploded, he looked like he’d been punched.
It hurts all of us when somebody sets off a bomb in a crowded street, and of course it hurts us when we know the place where it happened. Who knows what motivated someone to do it (it surely wasn’t anyone divine); for sure they clearly planned it to coincide with the Boston Marathon.
When most people think of Boston, we think of American history, the Celtics or Bruins or Red Sox, the Boston Marathon, the Charles River, Fenway Park, Harvard, the Boston Pops, “steamers,” or clam chowd-ah. Those are symbols and experiences, but not what makes Boston cool. Think of Cheers, the old television show--where everybody knows your name. Boston is different from other places because they have all of these neighborhoods--folks who live around Fenway live in a neighborhood. Boston is a town--and no asshole with a bomb can kill that. Maybe one of the most awesome things to do in Boston got turned into a tragedy, but nothing can kill the sense of community at the soul of Boston. If we want to truly honor those who were killed or who were devastatingly injured, then the best thing we can do may not be to simply wear our Red Sox hats, sing "Sweet Caroline," or run to be in solidarity with Boston. Those things are useful in the short term, but the best long term response may be to buy a stranger breakfast or make your own town feel like a neighborhood, like they do in Boston.
Prayers for our brothers and sisters who lost a child or a loved one in Boston; prayers for those who lost limbs; prayers for those whose ear drums were ruptured; prayers for those whose lungs were burned by the fire and smoke; prayers for those who took care of them all; prayers for this world.