“There is a rising ...”
The Rev. Liz Walker repeated this hopeful message throughout her opening statements at the Boston Remembers Tribute last Tuesday in the Hynes Convention Center, located just a few blocks from the Boylston Street finish line for the Boston Marathon.
Ms. Walker spoke of the “amazing capacity of the human spirit to rise in heroism, compassion, and sacrifice.” She said, “An ascension of the human spirit, left to its own devices, its divine design – will rise, despite anything, despite everything.”
The wind and rain on that tribute day was a symbolic contrast to the intense blue cloudless day last year at the same time. I was among the 2,700 people who attended the tribute, and we obediently filed through security lines before taking our seats.
The lineup of speeches – from local, state, and federal officials – reached our hearts. But the words of some of the survivors were especially poignant.
“We would never wish the devastation and pain we have experienced on any of you,” said survivor Patrick Downes, who also spoke on behalf of his wife. “However, we do wish that all of you, at some point in your lives, feel as loved as we’ve felt in this last year. It has been the most humbling experience of our lives.”
The Boston Marathon, established in 1897, has come to symbolize the soul of Boston. And as Walker so eloquently said, our spirit – by divine design – rises above, finds hope, healing, and life. It’s an appropriate message for the Easter week when Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.
The survivors experienced their own “rising above” in their journeys to find healing and new life. Each speaker pointed to compassion, love, forgiveness, and strength that endure above ashes and tears. We can all draw upon these spiritual qualities, which can never be depleted even in the toughest times, and feel their healing influence, both mentally and physically.
Vice President Joe Biden said that as a nation “we have never ever yielded to fear. We will never cower. And we own the finish line.”
The finish line isn’t just something several thousand runners cross on race day. It’s the daily victory of choosing to honor the good in ourselves and in our neighbors. It’s looking ahead, rather than back, which is what so many who ran the race have emphasized in media interviews. They encourage us all to look forward to the race that symbolizes community and unity.
This scriptural wisdom provides a road map for our progress: “We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down ...” (Hebrews 12:1, Easy-to-Read Version).
As we remove hatred and love more, we help remove even the thought of senseless violence. Divine Love, or God, is our great protector. “Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 571), the founder of The Christian Science Monitor and the Christian Science Church, whose headquarters are just blocks from Boylston Street.
It’s Love that moved the city forward and that will continue to guide us in our collective race.