Nearly Six Months

October 15th will be the six month anniversary of the Marathon bombing.

No, that can’t be right–it can’t have been six months already, my mind protests. But it’s true.

I’ve especially felt it as I’ve been involved in my other church community of Arlington Street Unitarian Universalist Church with planning the decommissioning of our prayer ribbons. If you haven’t walked down Boylston Street to the Public Gardens in the past six months, you might have missed our long fence filled with prayer ribbons for Boston.

They’ve become somewhat of a landmark for Bostonians, with people still continuing to tie prayer-scribbled ribbons, plastic baggies, and even socks to the iron fence. And we have had to decide what to do with the ribbons, not wanting them to waste away in the grips of a Boston winter of rain, snow, and sleet.

So on Sunday, October 20th, at 10 am, we will gather to take down the ribbons one-by-one. We will bless them during the service, and then our reverend will ritually burn them, bringing the ashes back the next Sunday for remembrance at our Day of the Dead service. In the spring, on the one-year anniversary of the bombing, we will turn over the ashes with the soil in our church garden, to bring in a new year of growing and rebirth.

In planning this process, I’ve been at Arlington Street Church a lot, and have walked a lot in the Public Gardens, which are right across the street. Not too long ago, I wrote this poem on a park bench there:

This Fall

A city in healing
shows scars, the ribbons
tied full of prayers to
church gates black iron–
people stop to picture.

The park not drunk
with summer in September,
missing sunlight but
the leaves still green–
sky grim like the seasons
have been diluted,
no yellow during mourning.

Soon, through
the trees will spill fire
stem and vein on the wind
like streamers
of a party
or a prayer
or at a finish line.

Well. There you have it. Funny how poetry can bring out things you didn’t even know you were thinking, just like an ink blot test.

I’m still in mourning for the marathon. I can still feel the traces of the bombing in the city. I don’t know what to do when I walk past Forum restaurant or Marathon Sports–whether to cry or feel uplifted that people are moving on.

I pray for the city of Boston. For my city, for people who had their day of safety shattered. I know worse things are happening in Syria and Kenya and around the world, and I pray for those people too. Because they have lost what we lost in Boston that day–the feeling of security, of being safe where you live.

I pray for peace, for compassion, and for strength–for all of us–to move on. To send up prayers, to run the race (as Isaiah says). Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and I think that one could also say, “Suffering anywhere is a threat to well-being everywhere.” We are all connected. We all suffer together. We can all thrive together, too.

Perhaps it’s too much to ask that the entire world do that now. But maybe we can start with our city–as Isaiah says, renew the city. Boston has pulled together in mourning. Now, as color returns and life spins on, let us live together–continue together, in peace and love.

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