I believe that at some point in my writing I have made reference to the explosions occurring at 2:50 PM on April 15. But at least one entry on the web claimed it was 2:49. Obviously, a debate over whether it was 2:49 or 2:50 is splitting hairs. For me, it does not matter which time it was. Other than the fact, that in all my writing since then, I have measured it as “time since the Boston Marathon explosions.” So, for me I think of it as being “beyond Boylston Street at the time of the explosions.”
The 2:49 time led me back to the Bible on more time. One more time searching for meaning to draw my thoughts and feelings about the race and about the explosion to some type of conclusion. Trying to find a hopeful conclusion.
So, I landed in Psalms. Verses 2-4 in Psalm 9. Reading from the New American Bible Revised Edition that I have used again and again in my writing, here is what we find:
I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
I will delight and rejoice in you;
I will sing hymns to your name, Most High.
When my enemies turn back,
They stumble and perish before you.
My faith was sustaining me in the time before the marathon. My faith has continued to sustain me in the time since the marathon. My faith tells me that God grants free will. My faith tells me that free will can be used for good or evil purposes. My faith tells me to believe that it is my responsibility to continue to work to bring about good and to believe that there will be eternal consequences for those who use their free will for evil purposes and who remain unrepentant. My faith reminds me that I, as other followers of the Catholic and even more Christian faith, are the hands and feet of God here on earth whose job is to bring this world closer to the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is at hand is not and idle prediction of the end of time. The kingdom of God is at hand is a recognition of the fact that those of us who follow the faith have a job to do in making the earth on which we live the kingdom of God. It cannot become like what we imagine the kingdom to be without our work.
The verses I have chosen reflect my belief that God has done and continues to do wondrous things. I should always give him praise. I love to sing hymns and I always rejoice in what God has to offer.
At mass today, there were several take away messages that help to move me forward from Boylston Street. First, it was my youngest son’s first Eucharist. The priest told a long story about how the sacraments received in the church are a spark but how we should seek to make sure that we light a fire for ourselves and for our children and all those coming up in the faith. In that sense, my continued exploration of my running, my work, my life, my faith, and the meaning I find in the world is my fire. But it is still a fire that is mostly within me. To truly help to bring about the wondrous things that those who are the hands and feet of God here on earth are asked to bring about, I need to make sure that the fire spreads.
The other take away message from mass was the importance of forgiveness. Creating forgiveness is one of the most wondrous things that God ever did. But I, here on earth, have to remember that it is not only God who forgives, but people who are asked to forgive as well.
The reading at today’s mass (celebrating Pentecost as well as my youngest child’s first Eucharist) focused on when Jesus addressed his disciples and told them that the sins they choose to forgive would be forgiven. The sins that they choose to hold bound would be held bound.
Jesus was speaking in the sense of having his apostles act on his behalf to forgive sins in what would become a sacramental manner.
What is interesting is to think about how this related to me as an individual. The priest at mass today also reminded us that for God who has no time, we were essentially there in the upper room with Jesus. If I was spiritually in the upper room with the apostles, what does that mean to me? In a practical way, I can forgive sins or hold people bound in my heart. Not sacramentally like a priest would, but in the deepest reaches of my heart and soul.
For my forgiveness, it has less to do with repentance that the priest’s forgiveness. Why? I am not God. I am in no position to judge whether someone is truly repentant. I will leave that to God. But for the good of the future of my interaction with a person and really with the world, I have to forgive. When I choose to hold someone bound for his or her sins against me, it hurts not just the person who is being held bound, but it also hurts me.
That realization, that I am being hurt by holding someone else bound was quite startling.
Much the same way that I talked about wanting to let go and move beyond, this all comes back to my ability to move beyond. As long as I hold a fellow human being bound for his or her sins, I limit myself. I have to be able to say, “I forgive” to even come close to finding the unicorn and reaching the ultimate finish line that I have reflected on in my past two entries.
Will granting forgiveness guarantee me a clear path to a finish line? Probably not. But after the insight I gained from today’s readings and interpretation by our priest I know that failing to grant forgiveness will keep me from moving forward.
It is quite cliché but forgiving does not imply forgetting. I am ready, after 26 essays to say that I forgive the attackers as individuals who were looking for a way to make a point and get attention for their cause and who chose a very poor way of making a point. I will never forget. And I expect some type of earthly consequence for the living brother. If it were not for the events, I would have no ill will toward either brother. They are two people of a different faith with a different set of ideas.
Forgiveness has set me free. And even though I still feel a bit short of the finish line or finding the unicorn for which I have seen so many clues, I have now reached a point at which my ill will and anger—at them, at the situation in the world that leads to such actions, and at the uncertainty that it created in my life—are basically a small shadow or fraction of what they once were.
I am ready to move on beyond Boylston Street into mile 27 of my life with other priorities and other points of focus for the future.
© 2013, Kevin D. Frick