Statement from President and Dean on Boston Marathon Bombings

Photo by Jenna EthierBeloved sisters and brothers in Christ,

All of us are still reeling from the horrific events at yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

As far as we have been able to tell, no one from the EDS campus community—student, staff, faculty, or their family members—was hurt. We will be confirming this with personal, individual contact throughout today. If any of you reading this have loved ones who were lost or injured, or otherwise affected by this event, and are in need of our prayers or any other help, please let us know.

Please know that the expressions of concern, love, and support that have been flowing into our offices mean a great deal to us.

I ask that you continue to keep this community in your prayers and to join with us in prayer for the victims, the perpetrator, their loved ones, and all who are touched by this horror.

I ask you also to pray with special intention for the young Lesley University students with whom we share this campus. I am aware that many of them are not old enough to have anything but hazy memories of 9/11—the fear, grief, and outrage that attend such acts of terrorism here at home may be something they have not had experience enduring. I am asking our on-campus community to take note of these undergraduates and to lend any emotional support they can.

There are no easy or clear answers in times like these. Instead I offer three suggestions:

1) Visit the Psalms (79, 90, 109...). The Psalms are a vivid reminder that anguish and anger, outrage, even a lust for vengeance, are not alien to the people of God. Should you feel these things, it does not mean you are an inferior Christian or lesser child of God. The people of God often feel these things. We are called not to act on them—we cannot stay in that place of violent despair—but to acknowledge that we feel these things simply puts us in the good company of prophets and psalmists.

2) Claim the power of this Easter season. We know—against all reason, we know—that violence, destruction, despair, even death itself, do not have the final word. I'm not suggesting minimizing the tragedy. There is nothing good or right about that violence. We know that resurrection and redemption come not by turning a blind eye to tragedy, trying to side-step reality, but by going through it and coming out on the other side. Easter promises incomprehensible resurrection and redemption on the other side. Visit the Gospels.

3) “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable ... if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” When you're overwhelmed by the constant media images of smoke and blood and chaos remember the other images—people running toward the site of the explosions to help others. Not just police, firefighters, and medical and rescue personnel but bystanders. People, people who must have been terrified, confused, exhausted, people who were injured themselves, ran into danger in order to help strangers. “Greater love hath no one...”

We at EDS are very grateful for the extended community that holds us up this and every day. We thank you for your prayers and assure you of ours.

Gracious God, Prince of Peace, Creator and Redeemer of humankind, we pray you send that peace which passeth all understanding on all who are touched by violence. Give them comfort in their distress and strengthen us to offer your boundless love, compassion, and care to all your children. Amen. 

The Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale
President and Dean
Episcopal Divinity School