Boston the Beautiful
finding faith after the quaking
for a friend in Boston
Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid --- Frederick Buechner
All over the world, every day, there are Bostons. Always beautiful and terrible things are happening in beautiful cities.
Many people live in constant fear of the terror. They would love to plant themselves in the beauty.
When terrible things happen there are no easy words, but sometimes there are words of ease.
A friend of ours in Boston, a priest and teacher, finds the words of Patricia Adams Farmer especially helpful. He encourages us to post some of Patricia's words on this site so that he can share them with his friends of many faiths and no faith.
Patricia is a metaphor maker. She knows that we build new lives out of old ones, not by hiding from pain or pretending it was the will of God, but by replanting ourselves in beauty, as best we can, when time allows.
She finds God in the replanting. It takes so much time to turn to the garden. The quaking is never forgotten. There's a rumbling in the heart. Forever. Still, we pick up the trowel. There are flowers to be planted.
I do not believe in the up there/out there bully in the sky. I would much rather celebrate the cosmic companion who is creating a universe in which I, and the rest of creation, am invited toward cosmos, connection, justice and love.
Rabbi Bradley Artson, Coming to Know the God We Already Love
Excerpts from Patricia Adams Farmer's
The Quaking and Breaking of Everything.
"Here is the world: the sudden death of a loved one—one day the world is sunny, the next, all is lost. If we live long enough and deep enough, at some point in life, we will experience a quaking and breaking of everything we considered solid and sure.
So the question, then, after the quaking and breaking subsides, is this: can we ever find solid ground again—a sense of reassurance that something is solid somewhere? The bleached, smooth corpses of trees, even in their stark demise, seem to answer in the affirmative.
Of course time, nature's natural remedy, comes into play. Eventually the sand will cover up the dead timber, or it will be caught by a tide in the full moon and be swept away to other shores.
People will come and carry it off to build houses and fences. The shore will, with time, be cleared. But time does not always clear away the debris of pain and heartbreak, not all by itself.
There is more, then, than this catastrophe, and, given time, the More-ness of life can save us from petrifying pain.
We learn to step back and observe the whole, to resist the urge to get caught up in the pain, and instead, care for the pain as a loving mother comforts a child. This very tender part of us is, in process terms, the tenderness of God.
No matter what religious tradition we spring from, we all have this ability, for if we are spiritually inclined at all, then we have a deepness and wideness within that offers us the possibility of seeing the whole and being reassured by the whole.
So, when all the quaking and breaking is over, we can rise from our grief, stretch, and look around for signs of the More-ness of life, for hints and glimpses of that stubborn, unquenchable goodness at the heart of the world, a compassion--a tender love--so deep and wide and high, that it can never be drowned.
This stubborn goodness in certain people, like Oskar Schindler, belies a stubborn goodness in the universe, a certain kind of power that process theologians would call the loving, persuasive power of God.
Hitler's form of power modeled itself on an omnipotent image of God, an almighty, controlling cosmic force, what Rabbi Artson so aptly calls "the bully in the sky" image of God.
Leon Leyson spoke of another sort of power, the power of compassion and goodness and courage in an unlikely hero called Oskar Schindler. He was a Holocaust survivor, the youngest on Schindler's list, one of over 1,200 Jews Schindler saved.
So when Leon lit the solemn yellow candle and told his story, it was a story that both chilled and reassured. He bore witness to great evil, yes, but he also bore witness to great courage and goodness, a stubborn root in the human spirit.
Here, too, is the world: Compassion speaks of God, and of a wide tenderness that embraces our fragile, terrible, beautiful world.
For here is God, that "cosmic companion" who whispers to us: Don't be afraid. '