Running the Boston Marathon is a dream of mine. It’s the nation’s oldest marathon, a symbol of endurance in the city of American freedom. Yesterday terrorists turned that symbol and city it into a day of desperation and death.
We know how to cope with tragedy. We survived 9/11. But that truth does not help us make sense of it.
Running a marathon is not easy. It demands certain qualities of character. Those same qualities can help us today. They give us perspective and coping tools for the days and weeks ahead. They include the following
1. Persistence: The strength to run a marathon does not come instantly. It develops through rigorous training day after day.
We have to persist in living. It’s a lesson Israelis, who today celebrate 65 years of independence, know well. Life demands caution and awareness, to be sure, but not abandoning the race. Even when we feel like quitting, we persist in living. We persist in our daily routines.
2. Replenishment: Runners need to stop for water. Their bodies demand it.
As runners in life, we need time to grieve. We need to replenish ourselves with friends, family, and prayer. The explosion struck not only Boston. They reverberate even here in Israel.
Before we head back with persistence, let us take time to replenish. Our heart and souls need the nourishment.
3. Endurance: A sprint is different than a marathon. A sprint requires a burst of energy. A marathon requires pacing, careful breathing and focus. So does coping with tragedy.
4. Hope: A favorite Hasidic story always brings me comfort in times of tragedy: Rabbi Nachman of Braslov told it two hundred years ago.
He once saw a man whose house had burned down. The man had been crying terribly about his losses.
Now he began looking through the rubble, finding bits and pieces of wood or metal to start rebuilding. One by one he made a pile of pieces.
Rabbi Nachman said, “See how he is collecting pieces to rebuild. So it is with our spiritual lives. Even when we think there is no hope, we are already collecting pieces to rebuild.”
God will give all of us–the victims and their families, and all who mourn with them–the strength to pick up the pieces and rebuild.
Rabbi Moffic’s New Book, Wisdom for People of All Faiths, is available now.