Gratitude: Thank you, God.

On Monday, I checked my Twitter feed and immediately saw that something big was going on. I don't own a television (well, I did but I let my oldest daughter have it), so I searched Google news for any breaking stories. With rapidly escalating horror, I saw that there had been a bombing, no, two bombings at the Boston  Marathon. Oh my God, no. Casualties? It was unclear at that point, but the stories were reporting numerous injuries. I immediately thought of my son Marc, who has been a resident of Boston for almost ten years.

No, he wouldn't be there. He hates crowds, I thought. But still, the forever worried mother had to check. So I called.

"Mom?" Immediate relief when I heard his voice. He's all right.

"Where are you?"

He must have heard something in my voice. "I'm on my way home, why? What's going on?"

"You haven't heard? There's been a bombing at the Marathon!"

There was a pause. "A WHAT?" I told him about what I had just learned. He didn't know.

"But...I was just there about a half hour ago! I was sitting in Starbucks (it bears mentioning that he was talking about the Starbucks at 755 Boylston, right next to The Forum restaurant, which was where the second bomb detonated) working on my writing and I was getting annoyed with all the people and the noise. So I went home to clean up around the house."

It was my turn to pause, mainly get some air into my lungs. "What? You were THERE?!!"

I still had trouble breathing. He was there; my son was right there at the nexus of one of those homemade vehicles of unbelievable mayhem and death. I couldn't bring myself to ask him if he was sitting outside; I didn't want to know. Even if he was inside, he probably would have been injured by flying glass and various debris that the explosion created, or by the metal balls and nails that the pressure cooker bomb showered on the people who happened to be standing or sitting nearby. And I would have no way of knowing what happened to him, unless I called every hospital in Boston and the surrounding area. And even then, it would probably take some time before someone could get identify him and pass his name along to whatever agency would handle patient information. In the meantime, I would be losing my mind out here in California.

It was truly a revelation: a mere 30 minutes separated my son from serious injury. I never would have known that because my assumption was that he would avoid the Marathon throng. But this year, he decided to forgo his comfort zone and get out of his self-imposed exile from humanity, which he exercises on most occasions, save for his employment responsibilities. But it was Patriots' Day in Boston, and there was that infrequent appearance of sunny weather. Why not go outside with the laptop, plug in at Starbucks' and have a cup of coffee while working? Makes sense, except that my son, that is unusual behavior. Extremely unusual.

"I don't know if I really believe in God or miracles," Marc told me. "But I have to say that it seems like some kind of force was at work."

"Ya Baha'u'l 'Abha' ("Oh Glory of the All Glorious"), I murmured. In the midst of my complete gratitude that my son was spared of injuries from that crude device's mayhem. Or more accurately, the mayhem caused by the makers of that crude device. On the other hand, I feel so bad for all the victim's and their families. They did not deserve what happened to them. And even though one of the suspects has been captured (the other was killed in a Thursday night gun battle with police), there is still the matter of the grief and suffering of the victims and their families. I can't forget about them. What happened to them is incomprehensibly deplorably. Three young people their lost their lives: Martin Richard, age 8; Lu Lingzi, age 23; and Krystle Campbell, age 28, while over 170 people have been injured, a number of them as of this writing, very critically. 

I have to admit, I knew nothing about Patriots Day in Massachusetts, and since I'm not a fan of marathons or running, I was only marginally aware of Boston's annual event. That has now changed for me. I will always remember that day. And I will always be grateful for the 30 minutes that could have altered my son and my family's live in ways that I don't want to imagine. It is a nightmare that the survivors and the families of the victims, have to live with. For them, I am posting this prayer written by Baha'u'llah:
Dispel my grief by Thy bounty and Thy generosity, O God, my God, and banish mine anguish through Thy sovereignty and Thy might. Thou seest me, O my God, with my face set towards Thee at a time when sorrows have compassed me on every side. I implore Thee, O Thou Who art the Lord of all being, and overshadowest all things visible and invisible, by Thy Name whereby Thou hast subdued the hearts and the souls of men, and by the billows of the Ocean of Thy mercy and the splendors of the Day-Star of Thy bounty, to number me with them whom nothing whatsoever hath deterred from setting their faces toward Thee, O Thou Lord of all names and Maker of the heavens!
Thou beholdest, O my Lord, the things which have befallen me in Thy days. I entreat Thee, by Him Who is the Day-Spring of Thy names and the Dawning-Place of Thine attributes, to ordain for me what will enable me to arise to serve Thee and to extol Thy virtues. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Most Powerful, Who art wont to answer the prayers of all men!
And, finally, I beg of Thee by the light of Thy countenance to bless my affairs, and redeem my debts, and satisfy my needs. Thou art He to Whose power and to Whose dominion every tongue hath testified, and Whose majesty and Whose sovereignty every understanding heart hath acknowledged. No God is there but Thee, Who hearest and art ready to answer.
(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 247)

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