Last night, after an afternoon of reading, and re-tweeting, and sorting through the small bits of news coming from the bombing of the Boston Marathon, after confirming that friends and family were safe, I wrote a love poem. Not a deeply profound poem, there was no "we must love one another or die" in its verses, there was no urgent encapsulation of the events of the day. It was just a poem, written to the one person I always write to, as most writers do, and it talked about eating great food, and raiding the wine cellar, and fixing a fountain in the center of town, one that had been dry but that's running, now, thanks to sent instructions, and personal initiative, and the assistance of passersby.
It seems inappropriate talking about writing about it, and talking about it today, the day when everyone's appropriately, understandably, searching for answers, and opinion makers, and politicians, and religious leaders, are searching for a way to provide them. I am not criticizing any of this, the unspoken architecture of how we respond to disaster. There are wise men and women in great quantity in our society who will battle back and forth with passionate words and genuine belief about what happened, and why, and what we should do about it. Again, there's nothing wrong with that, this is how a free society should respond.
But I think there are times when we lose our wisdom in our need for immediacy. I think there are times when the answers, the correct ones, are still trapped in their seed coat, buried under a few inches of enhanced dirt, and we need to wait, and watch, and give them the time they need to show themselves. I think a part of that is being willing to risk a little silliness, a little love, in the middle of the unspeakable awfulness spoken, and broadcast, and tweeted. We need to take all that in, all the horror, all the tragedy, and then remind ourselves of the reason we are alive, the love of a shared pun falling flat, the memory of friends seen and the happiness of looking forward to seeing them again.
I think it is when we allow ourselves to immerse in these things, just for a few moments, that the answers awaken, and start to show themselves, pointing green shoots up at the morning sun, and we find our way.
Prayers and love to the people of Boston right now, and the city that I love, that taught me what a city was after leaving the Nebraska prairie. It is, as people have noted, resilient, and strong, and wonderfully curmudgeonly in its dry New England manner, and all of that, and all of the people, there, together, will heal it in the coming days.
Stay strong, Boston, as you always are, and know that we are, too, and that we have your back.