Dear Dzhokhar

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One of the most fundamental, basic struggles we face is how to make sense of the evil, suffering and pain we experience and we see in our world.  We’ve all been there at one time or another.  This struggle was brought home to us in the senseless violence in Boston last week, when three beautiful young people lost their lives and so many were injured.

It’s far easier to find God in the joys of our lives.  It’s far easier to sense God’s presence in beauty.  But where do we find God in tragedy, in Boston? 

I don’t profess, by any means, to have all  the answers, or to even have these things worked out.  In my life, I’ve encountered evil and suffering and pain in very real, palpable ways.  I wrestle with these questions regularly.  But there is one thing I have come to know in such a deep way that it has changed (and continues to change) every single fiber of my being:

God is always present in every one of our experiences.

God is always — absolutely and fundamentally — with us and for us.

Even when, and especially when, we are struggling to find God.

And then God finds us.

As I’ve been praying for the victims and their families, and for the entire city of Boston as they heal, I came across this letter, written by a young Jesuit scholastic, Michael Rogers, SJ, who is studying in Rome and preparing for ordination to priesthood.  Mike’s brother ran the Boston Marathon this year and his family gathered to watch him on Boylston Street.  “Dear Dzhokhar,” it begins, “You don’t know me, but you tried to kill my family.” ”

I’m sharing it with you because it touched me so much, and I’m hoping you might take a few moments to read his letter.  You may not agree with everything Mike has to say, and that’s okay.  This isn’t meant to be about politics or about opinions on various social issues.  I ask you to read it simply through the lens of how, in the midst of great tragedy, we continue to find God in all things, in everyday life.  God always triumphs over evil.  Love will always win.  Light will always prevail over darkness.  And that changes everything.

May our loving and gracious God be with the victims and their families as they continue to heal, and may we all be called to be bearers of God’s grace and peace.

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