Reflections: The 2012 vs. 2013 Boston Marathon

Today the city is sunny, sullen and tinged with an eerie quiet. The community of Cambridge wants to wrap our big brother Boston in a bear hug and not let go.

Yesterday morning I woke up with a head cold and grumpily turned on the televised race footage. We were eager to go downtown to celebrate this day with our friends, but I was physically feeling puny and we reluctantly decided to stay home. Stevie worked on papers and I watched the race for hours from the comfort of my couch. This cold was perhaps a blessing in disguise. I won't re-hash the details of the horrific bombings that have been covered in excess by the news. After several panicked phone calls to friends we knew were downtown at the Finish Line, Stevie and I began to pray for safety for the victims and for all plans of evil in our city to be thwarted. Thankfully, our friends who were running the marathon and watching from downtown were all safe, though many of them were in the vicinity of the blasts and watched the horror unfold.

Patriots' Day

For many of you who don't live in Boston, you might not understand the importance of Patriots' Day in this city. Before I moved to Boston I didn't understand why people got the day off of work and school.

Patriots' Day is a civic holiday celebrated in Massachusetts (and Maine) to commemorate the Battles of Lexington and Concord. These battles mark the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, and therefore, celebrate freedom and independence.

In my extremely limited experience, it is a day that I can only compare to a robust 4th of July on steroids. Bostonians are fiercely proud of their heritage, and on this day, that pride is honored throughout the city with jubilation. It is an infectious tradition that makes you wish you were a permanent cog in this community. As a native Atlantan, I've never experienced a city-wide event so richly steeped in heritage and celebrated so widely. Everyone celebrates the marathon by showing up in droves to watch the runners. Strangers cheer for the athletes, high-five each other, children wave American flags. There is no distinction between race or creed, gender or age, even hometown heritage. On this day, no matter where you're from, you are a cheering Bostonian and you are happy.

We were amongst those who watched the race from Commonwealth Avenue last year, at the 2012 Marathon. I want to share a few photos and a video for you to understand the intended joy of this day, which was captured a year ago when we attended this event:

Boston Marathon 2012 from Kristen Hale on Vimeo.


I share this with you so that you may have a deeply sensitive appreciation for what the community of Boston is enduring. It's okay to be angry, it's okay to be sad, but in times like these I hope the processing of these emotions will lead to greater compassion and empathy for others.

Keep in mind all the goodness shown by people in these moments of terror. Marathon runners tearing off their clothes in order to stop the bleeding of victims, marathon volunteers carrying victims into ambulances, emergency-response authorities cooperating with complete strangers in order to minimize the volume of panic and pain. Even more amazingly, a googledoc was passed around by Boston residents who opened their home up for strangers to stay. Many visitors to Boston (for this particular event) had been displaced by the hotels in the area that were shut down due to the blocked-off crime scene.

These acts of kindness should be at the forefront of our appreciation to God's goodness in people. Feel free to post your comments, thoughts and prayers.