Boston Marathon Tragedy: Still We Heal

On my "to do" list yesterday was a note to post to Facebook, Twitter, and my blog about Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom HaZikaron. Yesterday was Yom HaZikaron, the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. Today is Yom HaAtzmaut, a celebration of Israel's independence.

But the day got away from me without my posting about those topics, because yesterday afternoon I found myself glued to the news after hearing of the explosives that killed and injured people near the finish line at the Boston Marathon. My heart breaks for those most affected by this tragedy.

The reality is we are all affected by this tragedy. We imagine: what if we had been there? what if our loved ones had been there? We wonder: where are we safe? anywhere? when will the violence stop?

We grasp for answers and for comfort, and we find little. Innocent lives were taken in a senseless act of violence. At times like this, even words provide little comfort for we are confused, sad, lost, scared, and angry.

There are some bright spots of course. Many of my Facebook friends are quoting Mr. Rogers: "Look for the helpers. You'll always find people helping." And that does bring a sense of comfort. There were so many helpers yesterday: first responders and others present running toward those in need, Bostonians offering their homes to those without a place to sleep, area restaurants only charging customers who could pay, and blood donors offering more blood than is needed at this moment (don't forget to check in a week or two to see if blood banks need blood then though!).

At moments like this, we like to see the helpers. It is affirming and heart-warming to see the altruism of others and to see how individuals and communities stand together. We must not forget the positives, even as we face tragedy.

Perhaps that's a large part of the message of Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut being back-to-back holidays. In one day, the Israeli calendar goes from remembering those who died to celebrating the country and its independence. We recognize that the human experience is one of sadness and of joy, one of contrasts. We do not and must not forget the day before - but we do so while remembering to embrace the fullness of our humanity.

Focusing on the positive will not take away the pain, but it will help us to heal, even slowly.

I close with words from the liturgy of Congregation Beth Adam and, hoping that we heal, that we find helpers, and that we never again experience such a tragedy.

Still We Heal

Eternal questions
Why me?
Why him? Why her?
Why now?
Even as thoughts race
Time slows

Reliving sorrow
We wonder
Is it a test?
Like Job
A divine tapestry we cannot fathom
But the Voice from the whirlwind is silent

We rearrange events
A moment's delay
A turn to the left instead
A more thoughtful response
If only
But we are born of chance
Helpless against its caprice

And yet
Though the loss may stay
In the shadows, then vivid
Overwhelming in recollection

Still we heal
Because that is what we do
Not all at once
Perhaps not now
But in time

("Still We Heal," Copyright, Congregation Beth Adam, 2004)