I was in the middle of a phone call late on Monday evening when the caller broke off the call saying, “there’s something coming in about bombs in Boston”. It was about 8.00pm Irish time. For anyone in Ireland the word “Boston” has a special resonance. Few are the families who don’t have relatives there. The cities of the Commonwealth are almost as well known on the Irish psychic map as those of Galway, Cork, Limerick, Athlone. Names like Dorchester, Springfield, Worcestor, Watertown, West Roxbury.
It was with a sickening feeling that I switched on the news that evening. The plumes of smoke and the mass confusion recalled 9/11. As the week went on we heard the voices from Boston on Irish radio. They were the familiar accents of the West of Ireland, the Midlands and faint traces of Dublin. Boston became local. And its tragedy was keenly felt.
Obama, as always rose to the occasion, in his reflection at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, less than a mile from where the tragedy took place.
“Tomorrow”, he said, “the sun will rise over this country that we love, this special place, this state of grace”.
This was the classic final note from the chorus in a Greek tragedy. We have witnessed terrible things. We have experienced our tenuous hold on life at its most fragile. We have witnessed the greatness of the Marathon runners. The great ones are dead. But the polis, the city is safe and strong. We shall go on because the sun will rise again and our faces are resolutely set to live once more with courage.
Our prayers are with the people of Boston. May they find courage in the solidarity of our prayers.
Reflection on Marathon Running
Dan Chiasson, writing in The New Yorker offered a beautiful reflection on the Boston tragedy, situating his personal experience against the larger canvas of why we dare to run marathons, what’s going on in our heads, the existential framework for undertaking difficult challenges. These are moments of transcendence, both in the running of the race and in the experiences of tragic loss. Shakespeare understood this: “What a piece of work is man!” (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2).
A marathon is a display of human endurance, stretched to, but not beyond, its reasonable limits; the fact that a healthy, young person with a lot of training could do one keeps many a healthy young person, myself included, from feeling like doing one.
Some people compete in marathons when they begin to fear that they might not be able to do so: middle-aged people, people who have been ill and recovered.
Or they compete for those who can’t, either because they are sick or because they are dead.
Everyone is defying, in one way or another, mortality, the actual finish line whose figurative embodiment they plan to cross.
Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker, April 16th, 2013
See the full article here.