In Gratitude and Solidarity: A Love Letter to Boston from A Former Student

Dear Boston,

I owe you so much. I really do.  You are the place where my interfaith journey began. At the beginning of my freshman year at Boston University, I never met anyone who wasn’t a Christian of some sort. I was already interested in other faiths, but *knowing* people of other faiths turned an interest into a passion.

I fondly remember sharing many iftar with Muslim friends during Ramadan, celebrating Diwali, visiting a mikvah center with the Woman’s Interfaith Action Group, and traveling across the river every December for Harvard Divinity School’s Seasons of Lights interfaith service.

I would not be who I am today without you, Boston. Your resilient people, both native and students, your devastatingly cold winters, sideways rain which soggily gave me a sense of humor, and your winding streets. Boston, you taught me about community, love, faith, solitude, loneliness, growing up, and exploration.

Monday morning my college roommate and I were fondly recalling all the great Patriot’s Days/Marathon Mondays we had while at Boston University and lamenting not being able to be in Massachusetts that day. Little did we know what was to transpire.

Monday afternoon two bomb blasts detonated in Copley Square during the Boston Marathon. At this point three have been killed and over 150 wounded. When I came back to my desk and saw “#prayforboston” as a trending hash-tag on Twitter, and I knew something had happened at the marathon. I didn’t want to click it.

I never know how to respond to tragedies like this. Especially the tragedies that hit close to home. Lord knows there have been way too many. From Hurricane Sandy to Newtown, and now you, Boston. Mourning has unfortunately become a norm in this country recently. As I wildly texted my friends who still live there, and are thankfully safe, I looked at those bloody, terrible pictures of Boylston Street.  One of the last places my friends and I went to before graduation, sharing veggie hot dogs and hopes and fears of an unspoken future one brisk breezy May day, has become a place of mourning. A hallowed day of fallen Revolutionary patriots turned joyful in sportsmanship, had become needlessly mournful once again. Your streets were not meant to be soaked in blood and tears anymore.

When I think about you, Boston, I think about my lifelong friends,  and how you had helped me grow into the person I was meant to be: an interfaith activist, a poet, and a spiritual being.  While I love New York with every fiber of my being, I must agree with my fellow BU alum, Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic, “You may leave Boston, but it never leaves you”.  Boston, you are always in my heart. You are strong, resilient, and full of hopers and dreamers. You will recover. You will move forward. Your response to this tragedy has been nothing short of the lesson that you taught me: that we are better when we work together.

Today in my mind, I am sitting with you once again on the cold granite benches of Marsh Plaza. The brisk breeze of the Charles River blowing, floating over the BU Beach, stinging my cheeks once again. I look up to the statue of doves that commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, another fellow BU alum, and his words echo thusly:

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word”

Dear Lord, in your mercy.

Image by Nicole Edine via Flickr

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