My first response to hearing about the bombing at the Boston Marathon was physical pain. I have a chronic back condition, disks aren’t doing what you would want disks to do, and stress causes flare-ups. I flared like the sun. I went to school in Boston. My brother and his wife live there. I lived a short distance from the site of the attack. I knew my brother wouldn’t be near the site, but I needed to hear his voice. I called his cell. No answer. As it rang toward voice-mail and the voice I heard was his recording inviting me to leave a message I thought about what to say–clear, concise, supportive–but when it came out I could hear the shake in it, the fear. I don’t know what I said, but I’m sure it bordered on babbling. I do remember saying “I need to hear your voice.” I think I remember that. God, I hope I said it, because it was my truth at that moment.
He got back to me. He was fine. His wife was fine. All his friends, even the one who went to the marathon but stepped away for a bite to eat. Thank God for hunger.
By the time dinner was finished and my son was getting ready for bed I’d sneaked enough looks at my phone to get the first hints that an 8-year-old had been killed in the blasts. My 7-year-old was in his bedroom looking for pajamas and urging me to let him watch an extra show before bed. He didn’t have to urge very hard. Afterward we headed to his room, and we read, and he talked about not needing a nightlight because he has a huge glowing moon light on his wall. “It’s so bright I’m never afraid.”
My back was in knots.
This morning my phone downloaded The Flaming Lips’ new album. It’s called “The Terror.” Maybe the title should have given me pause, but it didn’t. When I saw the album was fully downloaded I started to listen. It’s like a hymn for peace. It’s begging for it. I think we all are. I fully recommend the album, prescient in the need for it, soothing, introspective, universal. I’m using it to anchor myself back to normalcy. I need that, particularly today. This afternoon I’ll be attending a magic show at my son’s school that his after-school magic club will be putting on. They’ll use hollow wands to make flowers appear and magnets to make dice change size, and I need to be there, not just in the room, but rooted, present. I need to sit in the room and smile and be happy. The hymns of this album are helping me get there.
And if this album ain’t your thing, it doesn’t have to be, find your hymn. Hold onto it. Anchor yourself. Be loving and love. It’s our only hope.
My prayers for the hurting families in Boston.