I don’t know how to pray.
I start, “Dear Lord Jesus,” and then the words don’t come. It’s as if I’ve arrived at a cliff and am staring off into a wide, empty chasm.
How do you pray for the people, the situation, engulfed in the tragedy in Boston? How do you find words that mean anything, to reflect the deep, probing questions and sorrow and confusion that arise like smoke out of the horror?
We’ve all said it. Our thoughts and our prayers are with you. But what does that really mean?
If someone were saying that to you, what would you hope it would look like in action?
To me, because I am so removed from the situation (our lives went along quite as normal yesterday), my vow is to pay life forward in love. To not shield my family from the violence and terrifying realities that are shaking our world, but to talk to them about it and stress how important it is to, every day, keep on loving fiercely. And not loving just our family and friends (that’s easy), but showing love to those who need it most.
“Be careful … how much of the news your children watch today,” I read in a Facebook post. “Be informed, but be mindful of the fact that there’s not much about today’s events that our children need to know. Repeated news reports will be fresh each time and young children especially will think the bombings are happening over and over again.”
I gnaw on this thought for hours, not sure what to think of it. Because I won’t shield my three-year-old from this. He will come downstairs with his lamby and his angel blanket and ask to snuggle on the couch like he does every morning. He will see the news on the television and wait patiently for a cartoon.
“Oooh, look at that smoke,” he will say. Then, when a reporter interviews a woman in a hospital bed who has a broken leg and is awaiting a skin graft, he’ll say, “She got hurt when she was running.”
She was a spectator who was near the finish line to cheer on a friend. Her husband was “lucky” because he only suffered a shattered ear drum.
But I won’t shield my little boy from this. Instead, I will wrap my arms around him and snuggle. I will tell him that there was a very bad explosion yesterday and that lots of people were hurt. I will tell him I love him and I will say it over and over again. And I will pray that he grows to have a heart for God and a heart to love and serve others, because I can’t ask for more than that.
In our home, we will talk about why people do bad things. We won’t profess to have answers all the time. We don’t want to shatter innocence, but we do want to teach our little ones the raw beauty and importance of loving, above all else.
In New York, an artist projected these words from Martin Luther King, Jr., on the side of a building: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.”
How do you cope? Be the light.
How do you reflect your thoughts and prayers? Be the light.
How do you respond? Be the light.
Natasha Clark of the Huffington Post listed 8 ways that people are showing strength among darkness in Boston’s aftermath.
However you process tragedy, I pray you will choose light over darkness. That’s the only way we as a human race can win.