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:

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.

1 Comment
  • Nancy Laquerre
    Posted at 02:56h, 03 May Reply

    Dear Kristen,

    This is very well written and ties together nicely your own personal tragedies. As a person who has survived a couple of life altering experiences, I was very anxious and scared during the bombings. The day after the Marathon, I began an internship in a government building on Beacon Hill. I am not thrilled in general about riding the subway and this event created a heightened sense of anxiety for me. Underground, there were cops and National Guardsmen everywhere. They were checking back packs and lap top cases, looking Pressure Cookers, It was a very foreign scene to be waking by large powerful soldiers with weapons on the platform and swaying back and forth on train cars with the morning commuters to Harvard and M.I.T. On my way home on that Tuesday, I got on at Park Street. I picked the car with the police officer on it. I sat near him. I asked him if he had been riding the subway all day. He replied, ” Yes, I have and I prefer this to walking my beat.” I said that is nice positive thing to hear in all of this chaos. He then leaned down and whispered in my ear. ” I will tell you a secret.” I listened carefully and thanked him for putting my mind at ease, For 24 hours, I kept this secret and then on Wednesday his secret came across loud and clear on the news stations.
    My home is located fairly close to Watertown and Cambridge. I heard some of the blasts coming from M.I.T that evening when the officer was killed. At that point, I became very frightened and knew this was very real and close by. I was on lock down for the next 24 hours per the police department. Even my yoga class was closed. On Friday, I started to get ready for work as one of the terrorists was still on the loose. I wondered if he might decide to hit the DCR hiking trails behind my place. (A great place to hang out, hide and drink beer for teenagers, and lets face it, he was 19 and just a punk.) I devised a plan. If he chose to meet me at my car and high jack my old blonde ass to Mexico, I would shame him to surrender and leave me alone or Super nanny his ass until he cried like a baby. I then regained my senses and proceeded to go to the city. I was determined to walk through fire and go to this job that could possibly be a door opening for a new career. ” I wont let this freak punk hat wearing backward bully psych me out.” Nope, no way.” I use to be a Nannie and I figured I would just tell him, ” His behavior is unacceptable, and so is his back chat.” That was my way of getting my guts up to go out the door. My phone rang and my boss said to stay home. Relief came over me. The next 16 or so hours were intense adrenaline being released from the pancreas, crazy and surreal. This experience was not like anything I have ever experienced. We were living in a movie. My town was in lock down. I could not leave. Thank goodness my daughter was with her father in Bermuda. I figured, “Nobody ever bombs Bermuda. My rationale was that the population was too low and it would not make enough of an impact so I truly knew Lindsey was safe. So now since Lindsey was safe in Her pastel Bermuda shorts 999 miles away, I felt I had more freedom to make decisions about how I would spend the next few hours or until they caught “Mr. Reject from Society Duo bomber.” Anger, anxiety, fear, panicky, calmness, beauty, love, heroism were the range of emotions and descriptive I witnessed. Enough with the lock down. I went to my car to drive. Drove through my hometown, now a total abandoned town with nobody at any of the 5 Dunkin Donuts. On the Pike, choppers overhead like Seagulls over Revere Beach. Picked up Lil (Mom) Took her 80+ self to the local pub where they know her by her drink of half ginger ale and cranberry. Sat down at the 7 large H.D. screens and watched as the Real Time, Science Fiction, True Horror movie unfolded. As the black robot in the shape of a small army tank, rolled across and unwrapped the Bloody Terrorist Punk Boy like a Ham Sandwich, An Eerie feeling came over me. I then rationalized, and realized how good this was. How fortunate to have this life saving technology that saves lives and helps capture bad guys. When the news said a robot was going in, I pictured “ It rolling in and freaking out yelling like a sissy “ Danger Danger” Thank goodness for companies like IRobot and M.I.T. students who build their own and share their ideas with the F.B.I. and cops. Better TV shows. As they completed the capture, my mother and I EXHALED. We both held hands and knew we could sleep sound tonight. Hooray for the Boston Police, FBI, and everyone. Boston area may be expensive to live in, but right now, it’s worth every penny!!!!
    In a nutshell, a sports bar is the best way to watch a capture of a Freak. Boston is the safest place to live except for Bermuda. Continue to walk through the smoke, fire, fear, anxiety, and keep on moving because life moves on and open your heart to the person on the train, your mother, or anyone who needs a hand to hold. This will start the healing process. Amen. Namaste.

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