It is with great sadness and shock that I learned of the explosions at the 26th mile of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

While the apparent bombings and subsequent injuries and deaths are themselves horrific and saddening, the fact that they occurred exactly at the spot that had been dedicated to honor the 26 dead in the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn., is especially heartbreaking.

At times like this, the deep injury that violence has caused to us as a society and as a people can often feel overwhelming. The divisions and problems in our society that are underscored by such random and brutal violence can threaten to define us.

But we do not have to accept this self-definition of ourselves as a violent and frightened nation.

We can focus on the helpers: the brave people who rush in to protect, to comfort, to heal. The strong people who speak out against violence — even when it is not politically expedient. The resilient and passionate victims of violence who advocate for change, who work hard, who speak up. Who witness; who testify.

We can choose to emulate those people. We can choose to reach out to one another across lines rather than drawing fearfully away. We can see ourselves as a united people, working together and praying together to put an end to such violence.

To that end, we pray for the victims of these bombings: those who were injured in the blasts and their families, but also those who now see the world as a less safe place. Those who are rattled and frightened, angry and miserable. We pray for the families in Newtown who have received more emotional injury at the hands of violent people.

And we pray for those who have perpetrated this violence — that they might feel a sense of connection to the rest of humanity; that their hearts might be moved in the direction of peace and wholeness.


Bishop Brian N. Prior, Episcopal Church in Minnesota