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Clara Barton and Mass Bay Districts

of Unitarian Universalist Congregations  

Marathon Vigil





Being a religious leader is never harder than it is during times of tragedy. Lay leaders and religious professionals alike struggle to translate our feelings into words. We search for the right words but can't find them. We anguish over what to say to our children. We try but cannot make sense out of senselessness.


And this - this happened in our hometown. There are no degrees of separation between us and the people and places of this tragedy.


In a rush to do something - anything - we can forget how far listening goes toward soothing a hurting heart. We can forget to pray without ceasing, in whatever language Spirit or our human heart gives us.


If any blessing grows out of rubble and ash, it is a fleeting reminder of what is most important. May you find in our shared faith a limitless source of ongoing blessing. May you find longing hearts like yours to be with. And may you remember that no violence can ever separate us from the larger love that surpasses all our understanding.  

Rev. Sue Phillips
District Executive

Vigil at Arlington Street UU
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 8:00 PM 

In the wake of this tragedy, the Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie and the congregation at the Arlington Street Unitarian Universalist Church in Boston, invite folks to come to sing together and pray together; to lift up candles together in order to make light in this darkness.

Rev. John Gibb MillspaughWorship Resources 
Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh
Acting Director of Congregational Development
  Pastoral Resources

Karen Bellavance-GraceOur UUA Trauma Ministry Team has compiled resources to help us hold each other and our families in this time when many are struggling with confusion, fear, anger, and deep sorrow. Click here for a list of resources.

For adults with children in your lives, I call particular attention these resources:

For those who find sustenance and strength in song, I recommend: 

We keep in our hearts also the first responders and medical personnel who answered their call to service. Those close to the events in Boston and among the first responders, as well as survivors of previous trauma, including military veterans, may exhibit symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you need more information about the effects of PTSD and resources available to survivors and their loved ones, please visit the National Center for PTSD.   

When this kind of senseless violence strikes, the words of children's television icon and Methodist minister Fred Rogers are often invoked: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" We saw this in the immediate aftermath of the explosions, when good people ran toward the danger and broke through metal barricades to carry injured people to medical tents; we saw this in the actions of marathon runners who detoured from the final leg of their race to run to the nearest hospital to donate blood; we saw this in the outpouring of hospitality offered to stranded runners and families housed in spare rooms, on couches and floors, who were fed, warmed, held, and kept safe by strangers and friends alike. These are some of the places where Spirit dwelled yesterday.

Opportunities to be one of the 'helpers' are not over. The immediate need for blood donations has passed, but the Red Cross will need our contributions in the coming weeks and months. Our friends and colleagues in Boston will need the loving witness and solidarity of our siblings in faith as the impact of the events of Patriot's Day unfolds in psyches and hearts. Our covenant as a gathered people calls us to be with one another in spirit and in deed at such a time as this. Together we can hold open the door for Spirit to walk with us and bring us peace, even when understanding eludes us.

May these resources help support our ministry to one another in the days and weeks to come.

Director of Faith Formation