Saturday, April 20, 2013

Vigils & Bombs

It felt bad – real bad – last night to be watching moment-by-moment developments in Watertown.  If I lived there, I’d need to know.  But as it was, I truly felt like a voyeur.  And I had to remind myself that these were events about real people unfolding in real time.

With that reminder, I was able to do the one constructive thing I had to offer – pray.  And so I prayed – for the young man probably still a boy in many ways . . . for the police . . . for the folks living there ejected from their homes or ‘sheltering in place’ (such a benign-sounding phrase for being held hostage to a situation not of their own making) . . . for a peaceful end to such a horrific beginning . . .

Thus did my watching move away from atavistic curiosity to vigil.

And thus did I give thought to those all over the world living with such dangers every day.  Having spent some time in Baghdad, I considered the difference of bombings that happen daily versus those that happen so rarely.

As a civilian in Baghdad where bombings are a regular and often daily occurrence, you stop briefly to
determine where, in relation to you, the bombing happened.  When the first one goes off, if it’s close, you retreat because experience has taught you that another is coming soon.  In the immediate aftermath, you only go closer to help the wounded if you’re already so close that you know you can’t run far enough fast enough.

And if it’s some distance away, you simply resume what you were doing before the blast after checking to find out where it was and calling those you know in that area to make sure they’re okay.  And if you’re a praying person, you offer up a prayer as you go about your life.

Like anything else, violence quite easily becomes a norm to which we adapt.  That isn’t to say it doesn’t change us – it does.  But the needs and desires of day-to-day life simply work themselves around the reality, much like a tree engrafts a rock into its root system.

The only problem is I’m not sure which is the rock and which is the tree.

So today I pray for all the peoples of the world: Lord, enable and empower we human beings to work, to strive, to dedicate ourselves to make violence such a rare thing that no one need adapt themselves to its reality, its demands, its reactions.  May fear find no place in our lives.  May vengeance be left to You.  May all children grow into the reality You dream of for us all.  May it begin with me.

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