I didn’t get much training done this week, so I’ll skip the training report and get back to it next Friday. Here are some additional thoughts about the events in Boston:

Last night we all got the news that the second of the two suspects in the Boston bombings was apprehended. Like everyone else, I experienced a rush of relief and slept a little better than the previous few nights. And then today, while I was driving to meet up with a group of writing friends so we could spend the day together in retreat, I felt a wave of grief so strong I wasn’t at first sure what it was.

I’ll try to put it in words if I can, even if it comes out a little inexact. The loss of innocent lives—four in all at the current count—is, of course, part of what I am (we are) free to grieve now that we don’t have to hold our collective breath waiting for the perpetrators of the chaos to be caught. But I’m also feeling a loss related to the two young men who committed the crimes. Stay with me for a moment if you will. It isn’t exactly FOR them that I feel the grief; it’s more for an essence of humanity that they lost somewhere along the way.

As the story of their lives unfolds, it seems clear that they took a fork in a road at some point, that they stood looking down two paths (or even several possible paths) and chose one—this one, the one we’ve watched on TV all week.

These two young men were not raised in a culture of extremist ideology. And given that they participated in bringing their horrific plan to fruition together, I think we all doubt their actions are the result of a psychotic break like we sometimes see in those who execute heinous crimes. Instead, unless we find out that they really were framed as their hopeful parents say they were (which we all very much doubt), we see two people who could have chosen a positive path in life and who didn’t. We don’t know why yet, but they sold their souls to violence. And I feel sad for that.

It’s all the more heartbreaking in contrast to the other choices being made this week—with the utter, overwhelming, almost unbelievable good faith and kindness everywhere else in the story as it unfurled before our eyes. Boston is, without a doubt, an extraordinary place. The sense of community that oozed from every report, from every word spoken by the governor of Massachusetts, from the conscientiousness of the law enforcement and the homeowners in Watertown was exemplary and beautiful.

I don’t really understand how so much grief and beauty can exist side by side—it’s a mystery a little like how at the end of a marathon you can feel exultant glory and hellish exhaustion all at once. But here we are: Sad and grateful and angry and proud at the same time.

The beauty of community was brought home for Bill and me as we experienced all the welcome home hugs, virtual and in person, this week.  We have both appreciated all of them.

Also, if you haven’t read it, there’s a wonderful short article by a Bostonian in the comments below my previous post. I love the way the local Boston runners are thinking about finishing their race. Take a look at it below or find it here.


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