In the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy I found something that has stood out as a model for our priorities. There were, obviously, many reports that came in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, and in our culture of “every second information” there were people in the crowd who were on the phone with news sources trying to give a sense of what was going on and provide the initial reaction.
CNN Producer, Matt Frucci was on the streets near the finish line on Monday looking to cheer on his brother who was running in the marathon. When the chaos struck, Frucci wound up on the phone with CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer. I did not see or hear the interview, but later I read the transcripts. Now I don’t usually read CNN transcripts (or MSNBC, FOXNEWS, or any other cable news source), but this tweet from the Huffington Post is what demanded that I find whatever I could:
CNN producer who was at the Boston marathon has to sign off because his brother was just found and he has to give him a hug.
— HuffPost Media (@HuffPostMedia) April 15, 2013
It was this simple, small, and in light of the events of the day, insignificant snippet that really moved me in a profound way.
What happened in Boston is tragic. I’ve looked through nearly 200 photographs of the carnage and I’ve wept through a decent portion of them. But despite the emotion and upheaval that comes from this kind of cruel moment the reality is clearly documented that this is just the most recent in a long string of cruel moments throughout our world’s history. People have been killed, maimed, and terrified time and time again. This is not to lessen the impact of such a calamity, but to find it even more powerful in its context.
And yet, out of the ashes of centuries of unrest, of countless acts of violence, and of massive accounts of carnage comes the simple reality of relationship. The reason this short blurb of a story reaches so deeply into my chest, I think, is because the true terror that we feel in these kinds of moments is that of separation. During the 9/11 crisis I watched dozens of people where I work grab their phones and begin making calls to loved ones and friends in New York to see if they were okay. The destruction of mortar and steel creates messes, the severing of human connection creates massacres.
So this idea that a CNN producer, a man whose life is dedicated to reporting big events, would leave his post without a second thought to go and hug his brother brings hope to me. This is the chapter that Jesus implies was missing in the story of the prodigal son – brothers must embrace as well. And the fact that we haven’t lost all sense of propriety in the face of our self-serving consumerism is very good news in my estimation. In fact, in the photographs that I’ve seen, the majority of them depict both first responders as well as regular citizens coming to the aid of and attempting to comfort those who were wounded and scared. There is a strong sense of compassion and duty within the images that have come from April 15, 2013. And as an observation through all of this, it is obvious to me that though bombs ripped powerfully through the crowds and streets of Boston, they weren’t nearly as powerful, moving, or effective as the love, generosity, and sacrifice that came immediately after the blasts. Bombs have never been more powerful than love. Though an explosion leaves its evidence temporarily on the streets, love leaves its evidence permanantly in the hearts of all who have been touched.
I suppose that this post is really just me acknowledging that I have been reminded of what is important. And the thing is, I never really forgot, but as we all know you don’t have to forget something to lose track of it. Sometimes it’s the things that we are most aware of that we lose track of easiest.
May God comfort the souls of those in Boston, and may He continue to gives us ears to hear and eyes to see the things that actually matter.