I have loved Mr. Rogers as long as I can remember, and I have loved this quote as long as I have been cognizant of it, so was grateful to be reminded of it again and again today, as friend after friend reposted it on Facebook in response to Boston’s celebration turned tragedy.
There are always helpers. And Mr. Rogers’ mama is right: it is good to look for them. But, what seems even better to me is to be them: to be a helper, both before, and after tragedy. There are many ways that we can do this as brothers and sisters in the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the first is to really mourn, which ofttimes means really sit, really listen, really cry, and little more.
While some people may take comfort in scriptural injunctions that state (either implicitly or explicitly) that “all things work together for good to them that love God,” I am not necessarily one of them. Do good things sometimes come out of bad things? Absolutely. Does this even happen regularly? Maybe, probably. (And I could add: hopefully.) But, emphasizing the goodness or meaningfulness of suffering often fails to take suffering seriously. It simply doesn’t let mournful things be mournful. Worse still, it tends to justify the presence of evil, rather than work to eradicate it (which is a second important way to be a helper).
I would prefer to accept that sad things may be truly sad, and ‘leave ragged what is ragged.’ I believe God would too, because the scriptures tell me about times when God can’t say anything, but can only cry. One of these times is witnessed by Enoch. But another (as pointed out in one of the very best things I have ever read) is almost certainly when Christ was on the cross, for all intents and purposes, alone.
And so on this day, when part of my heart beats in Boston’s chest, I rejoice that the many friends and loved ones I met while living in that lovely town are safe, and pray and weep for those who are not. When I read articles, look at pictures, and watch video footage, I remember to search for the helpers, and feel profound gratitude because they are so easy to find. All the while I turn inward, asking myself how I may be a helper, in this and other times of genuine tragedy.
Bless you, Boston. Bless you, everyone.