Monday, April 20, 2015

What Does Boston Strong Mean Today?

There are two types of strength. There is the strength of the wind that sways the mighty oak, and there is the strength of the oak that withstands the power of the wind. There is the strength of the locomotive that pulls the heavy train across the bridge, and there is the strength of the bridge that holds up the weight of the train. One is the power to keep going, the other is the power to keep still. One is the strength by which we overcome, the other is the strength by which we endure.           Harold Phillips

Copley Square was aglow with freshly planted yellow and purple pansies. Workers and police and visitors bustled around Boylston Street, building a covered pavilion in front of the Boston Public Library and putting finishing touches on the finish line.

Just before 2 p.m. at Old South Church on April 15, survivors gathered quietly for an interfaith Service of Resiliency. Firefighters, medical personnel, family and caregivers had come to pray, to be in community, to shed tears, and to renew their hope. Even former Governor Patrick sat in the pew.

A dozen clergy processed in caftans and cassocks, robes and suits, turbans and tallitot. Rev. Laura Everett remitted us that today, Boston Strong is also Boston Tender. Musicians played “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I carried a large glass bowl up the aisle for survivors to deposit notes, unburdening themselves of their losses, fears, anger, and sorrow.
The clergy collected the notes, blessed them and offered them back to others in pews. Collectively we carried each other's burdens.

Afterward I stopped on Boylston Street to take in the day. I joined those taking photos of the makeshift memorials. I heard stories from 2013—how people became injured, and how the churches of Boylston St. (all in the “crime scene zone”) came together that week. I learned that the Greek Orthodox Church in Watertown had to cancel a funeral during the lockdown, and that Trinity Church worshipped in Temple Israel's sanctuary that Sunday.

Boston Strong means being united, not in a superficial way, but in a caring embrace that strengthens us all, holding us in a loving dance, as Rev. Dr. Nancy Taylor described. The dance may change, the tempo may slow, the dancers may be in the center or in a corner. But in that moment of silence at 2:49 p.m., with people standing and people sitting, together we held each other up.