By now, you are probably exasperated by the inundation of commentary, photos and social media surrounding what happened in Boston. As a runner, many have asked my thoughts on this senseless act of hate. After some contemplation and prayer, my thoughts are below.
Hate. Where does this hate come from? It was interesting, the same day of the bombing, I was called a derogatory, hateful word for someone identifying as queer, while running. Unfortunately, this was a fairly regular occurrence in the Midwest (especially from dudes driving overly large Dodge trucks). However, this was the first time it has happened to me in Steamboat. And, was a huge shock. This community loves, supports, respects and admires endurance athletes. As does Boston.
Where does hate originate? Obviously, there are many answers. Answers involving traumatic childhood experiences, or psychological problems or neurological abnormalities are all plausible and probably do play some role. Many of those answers go way beyond my intellectual capabilities, but I do have a few thoughts and opinions. I know, of course I do.
First, a good friend made a pertinent point. This type of stuff happens a lot in other countries. It absolutely does not make it right or justifiable, but Americans might want to use this as an opportunity to educate themselves about hate being expressed through terrorism all around the world. One of the questions many Christ followers and those who do not identify as a Christ follower is, “How could a loving God let bad things happen?” My simple (and perhaps copout) answer is, I do not know. If we believe in a Devine Being, then it is impossible for us to understand or comprehend that Devine Being. And, so, I don’t know. I don’t know why bad things happen. I don’t know why an eight-year-old enjoying life has to die at a marathon.
I do know my God is no stranger to losing a child. He lost His only Son. I also know His Son, Jesus weeps with us. My Jesus was the human embodiment of my God. And He cried. Probably man-sobs. (Son of Man-sobs, perhaps? Sorry.) He also loved recklessly and relentlessly.
A very influential person who shared intimate levels of experiencing that reckless and relentless love and continually dismissing it passed away last Friday. Brennan Manning’s book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, is the idea behind the name of this blog.
Brennan spent the latter years of his life communicating God’s Baffling Love. From my humble perspective, tragic things happen when our God’s Baffling Love is not present. When it is absent from our thoughts and actions. It is a Love of wisdom, tenderness and compassion. It is a Love that creates beauty out of tragedy. It is a relentless Love. It is an extravagant Love. It is a Love that weeps when we weep. It is also a Love that forgives. A Love that cannot be earned or taken away – because it is given to all of us. And it is given to each of us at the same velocity. The God Brennan and I know has the same amount of Baffling Love for you and me as every terrorist. And politicians. And murderers. And pastors. And Americans. And Canadians. You get the point.
And if all of that Baffling Love is given to each of us, it dwells in all of us. Somewhere. We all have the opportunity to radiate that Wisdom, Compassion and Tenderness.
At some point, every terrorist and murderer weeps. As our ragamuffin friend, Brennan said in his book, Abba’s Child, “Our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh when we learn where the outcast weeps.”
*Editor’s note: Don Miller (of course) has some great insights about this event. Check out his blog here. Short read and seriously worth the time. My good friend, Melissa, also has a different and inspiring take on one of the many special stories coming from this tragedy. Check out her blog post here.
*Editor’s (second) note: I have a lot of friends who are runners. Many of them are amped up and want to train hard to run a marathon, qualify for Boston next year or something else to honor victims or whatever. I get it. It is the runner mindset. If you came here looking for something similar, you just are not going to get it from me. I think it is healthy to grieve a little first. We don’t have to have this knee-jerk fighter instinct to go out and prove our strength and resiliency. I understand and will support all of my friends training. But just like a marathon, an impact is not made in the first mile. Or the second. Or third. Or fourth. An impact is made over a long time of work, endurance, strength and dedication. Not knee-jerk reactions.