I spent a long weekend near Boston in late April. After the destruction that happened there, I wanted to reconnect with the city and offer my respects to those who lost: lives, limbs, certainty.
On that April morning, I accidentally got off at Government Center instead of changing for Park Street because I was trying to help a woman get her stroller up the escalator. (Really, MBTA, what century are we in: a station without handicap access?)
Instead of getting back on for one stop, I walked along Tremont Street. Commuters streamed past, everyone intent on getting to work for another Monday. Routine. Mundane.
I passed the Granary Burying Ground beside King’s Chapel, where Samuel Adams and John Hancock lie. The Park Street Church played “Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise” on its carillon. Panhandlers shook coins in Dunkin’ Donuts cups.
I passed alleyways and side streets leading to Downtown Crossing, the shopping district, where my high school friends and I used to go to feel cool and urban.
I was reminded where I learned not to wait for walk lights, but to cross at any appropriate break in traffic (BPD must not write a lot of jaywalking tickets…or they’d be doing so for everyone).
The Commons glowed green in warm spring sunlight. I met my dear friend Jen Crystal at a coffee shop; she continues to be one of my inspirations as a writer and as a human being. (Here’s some of her writing.)
Then I arrived at Copley Square memorial:
The second bombing site:
The Old South Church ablaze with tulips:
The busker in the Government Center station played “Holy Holy Holy” on his guitar. I helped a couple clearly confused by their tiny T map find their way to Harvard Square.
Hope. Holiness. Healing.
And this, in the basement of the Boston Public Library:
Around the edge, the embroidery reads:
“We used to think that science would answer all our questions and solve all the mysteries. But the more we learn, the more mysterious our world becomes. Yet we do have glimpses of transcendence, even though no two experiences of the divine are the same.” –Karen Armstrong
So many things we don’t understand, we may never understand, about April 15. Still, I glimpsed transcendence: in the first responders, in the volunteers, in the medical personnel and law enforcement, in every small act of kindness and generosity and aid. In the visitors to the memorial who pause and share in the community of grief.
Violence makes people stagger. Cowards destroy buildings and flesh. Light and life, spirit and love, remain.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” –MLK