Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Street Corner Saints

In Boston yesterday, on a street corner near the site of the explosions that devastated the city two days ago, a musician took a clarinet from its case and played a pitch perfect rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." The pedestrians who surrounded him as he played had tears running down their faces.

Many have mentioned the fact that when the bombs went off on Monday at 2:50 p.m. at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, on tax day, on Patriots' Day, the vast majority of people ran not away from the blast, but towards it, to help their fellow citizens. Other runners kept going past the finish line, heading to nearby hospitals so that they could give blood to the injured. I thought about my son, who feels called to be among the first responders in any crisis, a desire born in the ashes of 9/11, a desire that has never waned.

Still, he was in my camp as my daughter and I debated whether she should go through with a planned trip to Boston this week. My son and I felt the city was still so fragile, too much was unresolved, she should reschedule her trip for another week. But she was determined to follow through on her plans, with her dad's blessing I might add. After getting nowhere in trying to dissuade his sister, my son said to me, "Well, I guess it's okay for her to go. After 9/11, you didn't keep me locked up in the house." I said, "But you knew New York City. She doesn't know Boston." To which my daughter replied that when 9/11 happened her brother was 9 years old, while she is 19 and can be trusted to figure things out.

She is on her way to that wounded city now. She once studied the clarinet, even though that haunting instrument has remained locked up in its case on a top shelf in her room for a few years now. Still, when I heard the story of the street corner clarinetist in the news this morning, I decided he was a messenger of peace, and that my daughter and all the good people of Boston and this nation will weather the troubled aftermath of tragedy with clear-eyed purpose and humanity, which is the best any of us can do.


  1. Yes, we trudge forward, our feet and hearts heavy. We have to focus on the love on the planet. There is so much good.

  2. Of course it is hard to let your daughter go where such horror has just occurred. But the chances of it happening there again right now, are so slim and she is smart and oh, honey. I know.
    But I think your husband is wise and I think you have all made the right decision. I wrote a little about this today as well.
    Try to be at peace, mama. Try.

  3. Yes, she is in good hands. It will be one of those experiences in her life that makes her a better person. She'll never forget it.

  4. The pluck and spirit of our children's generation is a thing to be admired!

  5. beautiful post. i was overwhelmed with sadness when i heard about my beloved hometown at the mercy of a horrible event. as a runner, i used to go to this famous international marathon every year, in the most gorgeous area in Boston. i pray for them now.

  6. My mother's heart is with you, sweet Angella, but my husband and my daughters would definitely agree with your son and husband on this one. We must trust that our children have weighed all of the risks and benefits while they follow their own spirits. It is the way that things are supposed to be. I hear a clarinet playing in the recesses of my mind. Your daughter is going to be fine.