Reflections on Boston's Day of Darkness

CC Image • hahatango on Flickr
CC Image • hahatango on Flickr

I. Sunday with Solomon

Two days ago I listened to a sermon from Ecclesiastes 11. While the pastors’ words focused on the positives that can be gleaned from that passage, Solomon litters the whole of Ecclesiastes with somber reminders that life is fleeting. (How many self-help books use Ecclesiastes as a starting point?) In 11:8, Solomon says, “So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many.”
The pastor also referenced Ecclesiastes 9:11, “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.”

II. Monday Morning in Proverbs

As a spiritual practice new to me, I’m transcribing a little of the book of Proverbs every morning. Word by word, I’m working my way through all 31 chapters, hoping that through the repetition of reading, writing,  and re-reading, some of the words will stick to my soul. Yesterday, I completed Chapter 3, which contains the well-known verse 5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
There’s also verse 25, likely much less well-known: “Do not be afraid of sudden terror ….

III. Monday Noon in Laughter

Following lunch, I sat on the balcony outside my office. It overlooks a man-made pond. Dozens of people walked its perimeter. It was a rare spring day in Texas, glorious in temperature. A busy-looking couple scurried about a large paved section in between my perch and the pond. With a measuring tape pulled between them, they were establishing distances between certain points. To what end, I have no idea. Maybe a film shoot, maybe for a stage. The woman had dozens of loose-leaf papers in the crook of her arm. She set them down to better assist her co-worker.
No sooner had they both turned to their task at hand did the wind whip up and scatter those papers everywhere, small whirling dervishes of white seeking nirvana elsewhere. They both ran after the papers as quickly as they could, as if they were the only copies of an Oscar-worthy screenplay.
I laughed. It was comical. It was Ecclesiastes 1:14 writ large: “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.”

IV. Monday Afternoon in Shock

Far too reminiscent of 9/11, I learned about the Boston Marathon bombing through the Internet. Similarly, my first reaction was disbelief. I spent the next few hours, as you may have, attempting to work while still seeking updates through Twitter and online news outlets. The on-scene videos were unbelievable, jolting, scary.
We all asked the same questions yesterday: “Why? Who? How can we help?”
And, maybe, “Why, God?”

V. Monday Night in Space

I finished Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time last night. I chose to read fiction because it made more sense than yesterday’s reality.

‘Did it just come?’ Meg asked in agony, unable to take her eyes from the sickness of the shadow which darkened the beauty of the earth. ‘Did it just come while we’ve been gone?’
Mrs Which’s voice seemed very tired. ‘Ttell herr,’ she said to Mrs Whatsit.
Mrs Whatsit sighed. ‘No, Meg. It hasn’t just come. It has been there for a great many years. That is why your planet is such a troubled one.’

VI. Today in Prayer

Today we pray for the victims of the attack.
Today we pray that the perpetrators are soon discovered and held wholly accountable for their detestable actions.
Today we pray our anger turns away from God and toward the real evil that’s infected our planet.
Today we pray our lives refrain from striving after the wind; we offer ourselves to serve others.
Today we pray to trust God and lean not on our own understanding.
Today we pray away the days of darkness in Boston and in our world.