In my faith tradition, scripture teaches: “In every thing give thanks.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) That isn’t always easy to do. On Monday afternoon, I wasn’t feeling it. What I felt, what so many of us felt then, was shock and confusion and anger.
But the nature of faith, I think, is learning to return to the lessons even when they don’t make sense, when they defy logic. And as I returned to those lessons this week, I found a few things to be thankful for.
I’m thankful for the firefighters and police officers and EMTs who ran towards the blasts, not knowing whether the attack was over – and the volunteers and other civilians who ran to help right along side them.
I’m thankful for the medical professionals -- from the doctors and trauma nurses to the housekeeping staff, to the surgeon who finished the marathon and kept on running to his operating room -- all of whom performed at their very best.
I’m thankful for the agents from the FBI and the ATF, for the officers from the State Police and Boston PD, for the soldiers from the National Guard and all the other law enforcement personnel who both restored order and started the methodical work of piecing together what happened and who’s responsible.
I’m thankful for Mayor Menino, who started Monday morning frustrated he couldn’t be at the finish line this time, as he always is, and then late that afternoon checked himself out of the hospital to help his city, our city, face down this tragedy.
I’m thankful for those who have givenblood to the hospitals, money to the OneFund, and prayers and messages of consolation and encouragement from all over the world.
I’m thankful for the presence and steadfast support of the President and the First Lady, our former governors, the civic and political leaders who are here today, and for the many, many faith leaders who have ministered to us today and in the days since Monday.
I’m thankful for the lives of Krystle and Lingzi and little Martin, and for the lives of the families who survive them, and for the lives of all the people hurt but who still woke up today with the hope of tomorrow.
And I am thankful, maybe most especially, for the countless numbers of people in this proud City and this storied Commonwealth who, in the aftermath of such senseless violence, let their first instinct be kindness. In a dark hour, so many of you showed so many of us that “darkness cannot drive out darkness,” as Dr. (Martin Luther) King said. “Only light can do that.”
How very strange that the cowardice unleashed on us should come on Marathon day, on Patriots’ Day, a day that marks both the unofficial end of our long winter hibernation and the first battle of the American Revolution. And just as we are taught at times like this not to lose touchwith our spiritual faith, let us also not lose touch with our civic faith.
Massachusetts invented America. And America is not organized the way countries are usually organized. We are not organized around a common language or religion or even culture. We are organized around a handful of civic ideals. And we have defined those ideals, through time and through struggle, as equality, opportunity, freedom and fair play.
An attack on a civic ritual like the Marathon, especially on Patriots’ Day, is an attack on those values. And just as we cannot permit darkness and hate to triumph over our spiritual faith, so we must not permit darkness and hateto triumph over our civic faith. That cannot happen. And it will not.
So, we will recover and repair. We will grieve our losses and heal. We will rise, and we will endure. We will have accountability, without vengeance. Vigilance, without fear.And we will remember, I hope and pray, long after the buzz of Boylston Street is back and the media has turned its attention elsewhere, that the grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are.
Fellow citizens, I am honored and humbled to welcome our friend, our leader, and our commander in chief, the President of the United States.