We are both.

So, today someone thought it would be a good idea to blow up the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

I don’t pretend to understand what goes through that kind of mind. I don’t particularly care whodunnit. My immediate reaction was to find out if the two people I personally knew were running were okay (they were). And then to get across the Ohio to my husband and kids as expediently as possible.

It would not be appropriate for me to discuss some of the crazy stuff going on in my work life right this moment. But let me just say that in the last week, I have had more than sufficient cause to understand why a just God would think just washing the planet clean of us all would be for the best. We are fallen. Deeply, fallen creatures.

But we are also made in the image of a loving and courageous God. When you hear that runners, already spent from 26 grueling miles, pushed further on to donate their own blood at hospitals? I think you have to acknowledge that we are both. We have both the potential for miraculous, brave good and the potential for unspeakable evil.

We are both.

Maybe it’s wrong that I think back to a silly television show about fairy tales in the real world. Maybe that’s as much an indictment of our society, or my own spiritual poverty, as anything else. But I keep thinking of local-kid-made-good Josh Dallas, “Prince Charming” on Once Upon a Time, speaking regretfully about the mistakes of his “real world” persona while holding fast to another, nobler identity that is equally real to him.

We are both.

I have to believe that this world is not all there is. I have to believe that there is more even to this world than meets the eye. I have to believe that something bigger than me, better than random chance, is guiding things.

I spent the evening hugging my kids as much as they’d let me, and just sitting on my deck. The weather was glorious. The sun took forever to set, as if the earth itself knew we needed a longer-than-usual respite from the dark. As if Creation knew we needed a little more light today to combat the darkness. The frogs and cicadas were near-deafening in their song. The stars were clear and bright, sprinkled around a luminous crescent moon in a velvet sky.

The few times I glanced at Facebook and Twitter, I saw a mix of reactions. Anger, sarcasm, compassion, bravery, cynicism. The whole spectrum was on display. I mostly stayed in the real world.

I thought briefly about retreat. About homeschooling the kids, planting a garden, working from home and building the obligatory bomb shelter. With what I do for a living, it would be easy to telecommute. I have a good professional reputation. I live in a rural area. I come from sturdy redneck stock. I could do it.

But when we picked up the Boy, he was flush with excitement from getting accepted to the local vocational school program. He’s not worried about the Big Bad Out There. And I don’t want to be the one who makes him afraid. Because for every awful thing I’ve encountered on my own adventures away from our small hometown, there have been ten wondrous things. I won’t be Aunt Beru, keeping him stuck on the moisture farm out of fear. We are both, and he deserves to find that out for himself.

We are both, and that is terrifying and encouraging. We are both, so it’s really up to us to decide which side of our nature we nurture. Do we feed fear and anger and hate, or do we reach for the light? Do we lean on love?

I want to be in the light. I know I’m both, but I want to push towards the better angels of my nature. I may be both, but I know which side I want to win, in the end.

Peace be with you.


  1. ·

    Oh, this. Definitely. We are so very much “both.” I, too, felt retreat coming on, especially given that I work in DC and I’m already too paranoid and watching everyone with an evil eye. But retreat doesn’t help the situation. Salt and light does. Ah, but the balancing of the “both” is the challenge… But God! The good thing is that when we read to the end of the story, He wins, and so do we.

    1. Kat

      I have been reading a lot of Psalms lately, Alison. Especially the ones that insist that everything will be made right in the end. And trying to lean into love, even when that very thing makes me more fearful. The more you love, the more you stand to lose. But that’s better than padding yourself in selfishness. Thanks for dropping by.


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