02 May Bombs in Boston
I am honored to be a part of the “Make the World Move” International website where people come together to celebrate life and share wisdom. This article first appeared there on 5/2/13. Please check out the site: www.maketheworldmove.com
As we walk into an open air restaurant on a small island in the middle of paradise for our first taste of civilization in 3 days since flying over to the Bahamas and commencing life on a sailboat, headlines splash across a muted TV screen and we stop in our tracks. Reggae music plays over the din of happy travelers sharing tales from the sun-soaked day and on TV we see images of people running, smoke plumes and the headlines: “Bombs go off in Boston at the end of the Boston Marathon”.
By the time this is posted, you will know more about what happened than I do at this moment. I have waited until the last minute to write my blog of the month and all day have pondered what piece of poignant beauty I will attempt to capture as that is where my mind still gravitates. Two weeks after my return from India, I still bask in precious memories and a new found sense of peace. In India, my heart cracked open so widely I thought it might break. Also in India, I honored the anniversary of losing my beloved home to wildfire and officially ended my year of grieving.
With sea-legs leaving me feeling a bit mind-altered anyway, the jarring headlines spin my mind even further into the stratosphere – and I know I don’t spin alone. All across the United States (and beyond), the news is being heard, radios being tuned in, TV sets turn on. I send messages via Facebook to my schoolmates who still live in the area making sure they that and theirs are ok. What we know is there are people who are not ok right now and won’t be for a while as three are dead and “scores” more are injured.
Every time I come to the islands, I relax on a deep level and spend time leisurely reading and writing. Lately I have gravitated to books on death and dying, spiritual openings and dark nights of the soul, even more so since my life-altering event over a year ago. This trip, I dug into “Broken Open” by the New York Times bestselling author and co-founder of the Omega Institute, Elizabeth Lesser. A self-described “good girl” for many years of her life, she finally let her heart crack open and the messy fall out after the demise of her marriage and in this book she dives head first into the topic of grief. Lesser is preaching to my already vocal choir. I find myself nodding and exclaiming “Yes!” aloud at many passages.
After my house burned down on March 26th, 2012 in a raging wildfire that obliterated two dozen homes and killed three of my neighbors, I allowed myself to run into my grief rather than away from it. It was a time of tremendous pain, beautiful moments, communities coming together and soul-bending growth. I culminated the year in India a place of intense juxtaposition of all that is right with the world and all that is wrong with the world set against heat and colors and smells and sounds that overwhelm the senses and blew my mind wide open.
Now sitting in another kind of paradise, I struggle to reconcile being here bathed in tropical breezes with the chaos in Boston, my hometown. I rack my brain. Where is the peaceful feeling I experienced minutes before glancing at the TV screen? What would any of my spiritual teachers say? What have I learned over the past year of grieving and letting go of my stronghold and demand for certainty in life? What are we to do, us fellow human travelers on this crazy journey called life?
We all know that we will do many things. Some of us will rant and rail. Some of us will turn the other cheek. Some of us will add to the list of why we are no longer safe, anywhere. Some of us will pray. Some of us will wonder. Some of us will wander.
Lesser’s wise words I read shortly ago about diving into rather than avoiding grief flash through my seeking mind begging for as much attention as the horrific headlines. As with everything, I have a choice in how to respond. I have chosen the path of continuing to open my heart further even when it seems unwise to do so. I have chosen the path of looking for the good in the world while not ignoring what doesn’t work. I have chosen the path of being a messy human with all the emotions and reactions. And I have spent the last few days reading an excellent book by a smart woman who is steps ahead of me in normalizing the necessity of grieving for those who are willing to listen – and to learn.
In this instant, I wish for those who need to grieve this recent turn of events and what it stirs up will do so. I hope that we all stop for an hour or a day or a week or a lifetime to remember what and whom really matters. Later, hopefully we will find who did this which will inevitably lead to a renewed grasp at certainty and for a moment we will feel safe in the illusion that one more bad guy has been caught. Then, time will go by and life will move on.
For now, I will return to my sailboat and allow the sweet wind and waves to rock me to sleep as I gradually allow my mind to stop seeking the solution.
Those of us who take on life as a spiritual adventure will adjust yet again to the massive unpredictability of life. Those of us whose hearts ache for those in pain may continue to remember this event over time as we do other losses of life. And we will continue to walk through our own fires and the fires that happen every day, everywhere across the world.
Boston hits close to home as the area was home for so long. I lived in the suburbs until my parents divorced then split time between living downtown with my dad and in the house my parents designed together with my mom. As I write this and images of destruction and blood stained streets continue to flash across the screen suddenly my ears prick to attention. I kid you not, a familiar melody is playing, mixed with the din of the crowd. The Reggae music has morphed into a song we used to slow-dance to in Wayland, Massachusetts: Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven. As my brain begins to register the change, the words penetrate my heart and I chuckle to myself:
And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.
Is this intentional on this evening where hearts break and lives change while others continue on their merry way? Is it merely a random occurrence in a pre-programed selection of island grooves? I don’t know. I stop to hold it all: The indescribable juxtapositions in life. The beauty and the horror, the depth of love and the heat of hate, the simple and the complex. It is all life. I breathe it all in for now and know in this moment, there is nothing else I can do.