In the face of tragedy, like today's bombings at the Boston Marathon -- a marathon in which the final mile was dedicated to Newtown victims, which somehow makes this all seem even more painful -- how can we respond?
When something awful happens, I think of the passage from Reverend Kate Braestrup which I shared last fall in a sermon for Shabbat Nachamu. God, she says, is not in the disaster; God is not in the car accident; God is not in the bombing. We find God in the love expressed by those who rush to respond: the helping hands, the caring hearts, the first responders who risk their lives to assist those in need.
Reverend Braestrup shares that theology with the venerable Fred Rogers, may his memory be a blessing. (He was a Presbyterian minister, though I didn't know that when I watched his television show as a kid.) I've seen a lot of people sharing a quote from Mr. Rogers today, about how his mama taught him to respond to scary things by looking for the helpers.
Look for the helpers. We find God in those who respond.
God is in the 1200 people who have opened up their homes to stranded runners and travelers in and around Boston today.
In the first responders -- police, EMTs, firefighters, and others -- who rushed not away from the explosions but into them, to help those who were wounded, putting their own lives on the line to aid others.
In those who, according to NBCN, completed the marathon and immediately went to give blood so that the injured could be healed.
In everyone who is caring for those who are wounded and those who are grieving, and those for whom this has been triggering, and those who are afraid.
My prayers are with those who are wounded, those who are grieving, and those who are afraid: in Boston tonight, and in Baghdad, Nasiriyah, and Kirkuk tonight, and everywhere else in the world where people know sorrow and pain. I can't make sense of the loss of life. All I know how to do is hope for healing, and thank the first responders, and find God's presence in the acts of the helpers -- and in every broken heart.