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.
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.
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.
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.
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.