Monday, April 15, 2013

The River of Sorrow: Reflections on Boston, April 15, 2013.

The river of sorrow starts with five words.

"Did you hear the news?"

A voice whispered over a cubicle and the river  jumps the cloth paneled walls and flows across the office under the florescent lights as the refrain burbles in the river's current, flowing from person to person.

"Did you hear the news?"

"Did you hear the news?"

In the swirling eddies that form as the river flows faster and faster come the details, coming in flotsam and jetsam, bits and pieces of data as people urgently checked their computers, their cell phones, looking for answers as the river cascades to other floors, to other buildings, to other towns.

We follow the river. Sadly, we know its course far too well.

"Did you heard the news?"

"There was a bomb."

"There were two bombs."


"Says here there were three bombs."


"Was anyone one hurt?"

"Is anyone dead?"

"No, two bombs went off. They found a third that hadn't exploded."

"Two bombs exploded in Boston."

"Two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon."

"Two explosions, people are hurt."

"How many?"

"They say 20 are hurt."

"No, 25 hurt."

"Wait! 40 are hurt and someone may be dead."

"Someone has died!"

"Reports are over 70 people are injured, at least one death."

"Two dead."

"Two dead and 85 people badly hurt."

"Two people are dead. Oh my God, one of them was a child."

"A child? Oh no."

"Estimates are over 90 people injured."

"Reports are some people are in really bad shape."

"Some victims may have lost an arm or a leg."

"The child was only 8!"

"Oh hell, it looks like over 100 people injured by those bombs!"

"Who did this?"

"Who would do this?"

"It's a terrorist attack."

"Terrorist attack? Oh no! Not again."

"Could be another nut."

"Like the Denver shooter, like the guy who killed those people in Newton."

"But with bombs instead of guns."

"Like the bomber in Oklahoma City. Or Atlanta."

"Could be Al Quaeda."

"Does anyone know who did this?"

"Does anyone know why?"

And the river stops. The flow of words, of facts and guesses, of thoughts and emotions, it all stops in a pool that collects around that last question.



The river of sorrow flows to a dark lake of the unanswerable. The news is too raw, too unsorted. As paramedics aid the hobbling broken and bleeding while others even more shattered are wheeled away, police and FBI are sifting thru the rubble, smouldering in smoke, splattered in blood. Theories begin to form, barely tangible but becoming more real as details are gathered like gruesome puzzle pieces until a picture begins to form that begins to answer questions.

Who? What? When? Where? How?

But there's one question that haunts us most here on the river, from our shore watching the fire on the other side. As we watch another day of life ordinary torn asunder by violence, the question echoes across the water: "Why?"

"Why did someone do this?"

"Why did they think this was the way?"

"Why did they think this was the only way?"

"Why did they attack here?"

"Why did they attack now?"

"Why did people have to get hurt?"

"Why did people have to die?"

"Why does this keep happening?"

"Why won't it stop?"



We may never get the answer to why. Even if the person or persons with their hate-filled hearts and their dead souls are dragged to justice in chains, we may never know why. Reasons will be given. A manifesto may be found. A message of bravado posted on a website somewhere.  But it will never be enough to answer that most achingly important question, "Why?" Because no reason given will be ever be enough.

We hold our hands to our hearts, we embrace our children, our loved ones. We pray for the dead, we pray for the injured, we pray for all those in pain.

We pray for Boston.

We pray for ourselves.

And we leave the dark lake. 

"Over 120 injured."

"More than 130 people hurt, some very badly."

"Three people are dead."

The river of sorrow flows on.

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