In the hours and days that followed the attacks at the Boston Marathon, So many mixed feelings went through my head. This was especially so in light of other events happening in our country and around the world. My frustration with mass media began to set in through lots of different ways. While I understand that it was important to keep our community up to date, I wasn’t prepared to see all the major news networks set up camp in Boston. This post is about my first day spending time back in Boston after the bombings and my personal experiences.
In all the tragedy, some of us wanted to have some moments distracted by our favorite TV programming for a laugh or to. I don’t know if the major networks outside of the Boston viewing area got to see their regularly scheduled programming, but we didn’t. Even in non-Boston news networks, we only heard about what was (or at that point, WASN’T) happening in Boston. The racism and hatred floating around the internet (without any known suspects yet, mind you) was soooo frustrating. I was encouraged to hear from friends who were okay, who were seeking a place to vent and share prayer requests, and to cheer one another up. My BU School of Theology Community was amazing during this time. So many were caught up in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, saw and heard things they hope they never have to face again. I can’t imagine what may have been going on in their hearts. But we used social media well to hold one another up in love. One professor suggested a positive way to honor the significance of what happened. Dr. Shelley Rambo brought forth the idea that we should wear our running shoes all week as a sign of standing together in love, and running towards justice and peace. Upon hearing that a BU grad student was one of the victims, I took some old running shoes to bring to leave as a tribute at Marsh Plaza- the heart of the BU Campus in front of the Chapel. Mind you, I wasn’t expecting this to become as big a deal as it kind of/almost did.
Wednesday morning I head into the city like “any other Wednesday… except it wasn’t” to use words my friend Shawn used to open up our BU weekly chapel service later that day. I went into the city a little early so I could walk a bit- It honestly felt great to be back in Boston. After getting over the initial surprise of it, I was comforted by the heavy presence of National Guard and Police somewhat heavily armed. I had my old running shoes, and grabbed a few things to put together to leave at Marsh Plaza. The problem with news media swarming the city was that it had been two days and there hadn’t yet been much in the way of updates, so somehow I was so caught up in being grateful to be joining my BU STH beloved community, that I must not have noticed the reporters lurching (literally) in the shadows of BU Central Area at that moment looking for a good story about. As I went to place my tribute, I looked up and saw a swarm of reporters all around me. They started hounding me with questions and snapping photos and honestly it was one of the most awkward moments. Apparently my picture was in a number of NYC news sources the next morning. They even made a bit of a scene, as some of them weren’t all that respectful as they tried to cover our chapel service. Somehow, I found that my name got tossed around the media pool, and some creeper from the Boston Globe even managed to hunt down my BU email address to ask me about the tribute I left. I gave all the credit to my BU STH community in my reply, but by the end of the day, false rumors of suspects and arrests gave them something to gnaw on for a while.
Nonetheless, that time in Marsh Chapel together with our beloved community, was more meaningful than words could really describe. I was incredibly grateful to see everyone safe. It was a powerful experience to realize the depth of what happened by looking into the eyes of many who were downtown when the explosions happened. I admit, I call myself a “Boston Girl”, but I live outside the city far enough that I can’t fully imagine what my friends who lived in the city and were in the city that day were going through. Our love for one another grew even more this week, and it carried us through the tough moments, and it is a collective voice that tried to be a voice of hope, peace, and love in these seemingly dark days.
In all this- other events around the country and globe challenged me to consider what it meant to have a healthy perspective on what happened in Boston. That’s what I hope to consider in my next post.
Boston area friends: What moments stood out to you in the moments and days after the explosions?