What violence can never touch: a year after the Boston Marathon bombings

This article was originally published in The Christian Science Monitor.

I was standing with my kids a block from the Boston Marathon bombings a year ago. We felt the tremors in the ground, but not until we got a call from my cousin’s husband telling us a bomb had gone off did we understand what had happened. My cousin was running the race, and we were supposed to meet her at the finish line. We had been on our way to a frozen yogurt shop, so we entered the shop to sit and anxiously await news of my cousin.

Siren after siren raced through Boston, as scores of people began searching for anywhere to find rest and peace, having abandoned the marathon. Marathoners entered the shop, and my kids and I struck up a conversation with a runner from Indiana who had been just short of the finish line when the first bomb went off. He asked to use our cellphone to call his father to let him know he was OK.

He described to us what he’d seen, and as the horror of the situation became clear, I felt a great love toward him. I could tell he was looking to try to make sense of a situation that didn’t have a logical explanation. It reminded me of deep discussions with friends in graduate school about God’s role in events of good and evil around the world. But I felt at that moment that this man didn’t need some big theological idea. What all of us needed was a very real, comforting presence of God as divine Love embracing everyone amid the alarm and chaos.

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