Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Gospel According to Betty Smith (as applied in Boston)

Betty Smith

It’s Saturday and once again, I am working on my sermon for tomorrow. It’s hard to believe that it has been only a week since the last one. A long week with lifelong repercussions for so many.

Last week my sermon text was from Psalm 30:
Weeping may linger in the night, but joy comes in the morning. One of my examples was from Betty Smith, best known for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but also the author of a novel called Joy in the Morning, a title straight out of  Psalm 30. Last Sunday I shared this quote from that novel: Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or the last time.

I spent two days this week in and around Boston. You couldn’t help but be struck by the swift and extraordinary work being done by law enforcement and private citizens. As events unfolded, keen observation counted. Many poets and spiritual writers describe prayer as”paying attention.” Like so many others, I am grateful for those whose prayers this week took that form. Thank you for looking at everything as if you were seeing it for the first or last time.

We Pray For You, Boston

As a daughter of Massachusetts, I’ve always had a soft spot for the third Monday in April. When I was young, it meant a day off from school, sometimes a Red Sox game, always the Marathon. If the day had a soundtrack, it was a mix of spring birds chirping, crowds on Heartbreak Hill cheering and a little colonial fife and drum music playing in the background. When my son was born on Patriots’ Day, I remember being glad of that. It seemed like a good day, an auspicious day.

Patriots’ Day 2013 was not a good day. For those who love Boston, yesterday brought outrage. How dare you do this to our city, to one of our most hallowed traditions and most of all to our people–our children, our citizens, our guests.

Boston will carve meaning out of this.  The stories of heroism went into circulation quickly and they will multiply.  Both the designated first responders and yesterday’s accidental ones were, by all accounts, magnificent.

As it happened, I had dinner last night (a birthday dinner for the Patriots’ Day-born son) at mile 13 on the Marathon route. When I got there, the streets looked the way they always do post-race–rimmed with the discarded water bottles and paper cups that passing runners toss as they try to stay hydrated. After dinner, it took us longer than usual to reach the highway to head back home.

StreetsweeperIt was a slow ride because we got caught behind a street-sweeper. Normally this might have made me impatient, but there was comfort in watching a little bit of the clean-up last night. A solitary, methodical street-sweeper driver, quietly working late into the night. Not able to sweep away the day’s horror, but cleaning up and setting right the portion of road he could.

We pray for the dead and the injured and the anxious. We pray for those who witnessed the trauma. We pray for those now working on the investigation. We pray for all public servants. We give thanks for those who brought comfort and medical attention on the scene yesterday and for those, who in so many silent, tireless ways, are working to help a beloved city restore order and peace. We pray for you,  Boston.