I heard about the marathon bombings on Twitter. I hear about most everything on Twitter. I had been cleaning the house, vacuuming under chairs, tidying up stacks of papers, when I checked in at the computer. Then, there I was, along with much of America, sitting, glued to the screen, Googling for more information, clicking over to the Facebook page of a running friend who’d flown out with her family for the event (and later rejoicing that she was okay). I hate hearing about tragedies like bombings almost as much as I find I can’t pull myself away from the stories once they come in. Who would do this? Why? Who was hurt? And then: Oh, God. A child died. Another lost a limb. And in Boston.

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I’ve been to Boston only once, for a late summer trip with my brother in 2007. It was our first trip together, solo, sans parents, and, to this day, it’s been my favorite. I was newly employed. We’d gotten all our hotels through credit card points. I wore an Aveda personal blends perfume I’ve since worn in Illinois and Nashville and on my wedding day but which still makes me think of Boston sunshine and bakeries and walking the Paul Revere Trail.

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When Tim and I talk about someday dreams, hitting Boston is high on the list. I’ve told him about the killer cannolis and the Italian North End and the historic buildings that make you feel patriotic in a way you didn’t think you could. So when I sat there, reading news reports and Twitter updates and Instagrams Monday night, I felt sick, the way you have to when you face darkness head-on. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

Tuesday morning, the day after the bombings, our post about a simple arugula salad went live over here. It had been written over the weekend, one of the most beautiful in Nashville this year, a few days of fierce sunlight far away from any thoughts of violence. We’d spent time Saturday noticing the wonders of life from death, buds from barren limbs, fresh green from what was straw, and felt so blessed and thankful, that that’s what came out when I sat down to write.

And while on Tuesday morning, most of us were still thinking about Boston, my prewritten post went up here, live, talking with you about the sheer delights of this created world.

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In the days since that last post, we’ve gotten up each morning and we’ve taken showers and we’ve made the bed and we’ve set to working at the table. I vacuumed again Wednesday afternoon—I’d never finished Monday—and I grocery-shopped and Tim mowed the lawn and my mom emailed me a story that made me laugh out loud. Yesterday, we bought a slice of raw key lime cheesecake from this new place, Khan’s, and ate it together in the car, out of a paper box, each of us with a compostable fork. When Chicago had flash floods the other night, my parents’ house took in water. When I posted an update on social media, someone came back at me with harsh words. We roasted broccoli for lunch and savored every crispy, crunchy morsel.

It seems to me that the beauty in this world is ever in conflict with the darkness that is also always present. That darkness shows itself in the harsh email, the school shooting, the discrimination, the pride. We see it clearly in these obscene acts of violence, like what happened publicly this week, but it’s also right there in my unforgiveness, the kind I feel and sense rising in my own heart when someone does me wrong. Sometimes what scares me most is not that there are bombers in the world—it is that I am not much different from them: I intentionally hurt someone. I demand my own way. I don’t want to put you before me. And when you dive head-on into this perspective, really get thinking about it, it’s heavy and sad.

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C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” And for the Christian, there’s no other way to look at evil but as a testament to the brokenness of this world. It was not meant to be like this—and one day, it won’t be. One day all wrongs will be righted, all tears be erased, all pain be forgotten, all evil gone.

As I see glimpses of beauty in white petals, swaying branches, the variety of textures in food, the way Tim listens to me when I talk and the miracle of babies being born, I see also what these things point to. I long for that someday world to come. I long for everything to be made new.




Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Erin

    BEAUTIFUL post. The darkness can be overwhelming, but the goodness is there too–but this is a week where it can be hard to remember.
    I love that CS Lewis quote–something good to remember as we process recent events.

  2. Kathryn

    This post particularly resonates given the images of this morning. The world is a crazy and confusing place, veering from darkness to light and back again in a flash. Thank you, as ever, for your words.

  3. Jacqui

    It’s been a crazy week. Bombings and floods, a baby born, signs of spring fighting for life, a certain Charlie taking his first steps, and everyday life mixed in between. I’ve been having these same thoughts you talk about here, about how ” the beauty in this world is ever in conflict with the darkness that is also always present.” I wrote a few words about it the other day, but they’re still rough ramblings. Hoping to make sense of it all and post something soon. Your words helped. have a great weekend, friend.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I was thinking about these things earlier in the week when you posted photos of your new nephew. It was right after the bombings, and I remember thinking, wow, look at that, new life! Your post last night gave me chills, thinking about Murdo’s grandma, thinking about the way things are beautiful and tragic, wonderful and dreadful all at the same time.

  4. Andrea

    What a wonderful perspective you offer! Yes, there will be hurt and pain and darkness in our world, we can’t ignore or forget that, but in the midst of suffering, the Lord still blesses us! Thank you!

  5. jacquie

    well said and wise words- thank you for the post. i fear it would be a very cold and dark world without us all being able to be compasionate and empathetic with others. Isn’t the base for that empathy rooted in our ability to see ourselves in another?

  6. Emmie

    Shanna, I read this post during one of my homework breaks. My assignment had me feeling grumpy and exhausted. And then your honest words convicted my spirit and reminded me of the fragility of this world and the abundance of grace and beauty that God showers us with each day. Thanks for your sweet concern for me on Monday.

  7. Emmie

    “Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
    At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
    When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
    And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
    C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

  8. Lyndsey

    Shanna, I’ve started following your blog recently and been very blessed. (I met you at Immanuel the other Sunday – I know Jared and Nathan) This post particularly spoke volumes because of my desire to look at the world through the eyes of Christ. But sometimes, in the face of things like this week’s events, I’m tempted to bury my head in the sand and not bring my thoughts, anxieties, and questions to the Lord – or even my own sin and selfishness that are reflected in this darkness, as you so astutely reminded us. Thank you for sharing not only simply delicious recipes, but also a simply trusting heart.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Lyndsey, I have to thank you for leaving that comment for two reasons: (1) You’re so kind with your words here–thank you! and (2) Now I know about your site!–and it’s so lovely, I’ve just spent the last 15 minutes scrolling through archives. Hope to meet you again sometime soon.

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