Last Monday morning I sat down at the table in my living room to write the weekly blog post, as is my habit. It was a particularly good one, I thought, and I still intend to use it at some point. But by later that day, it no longer seemed quite right.
I wrote it before posts and rumors and tweets about bombs exploding downtown began flying. And before we all started scrambling to locate friends and family who were lining the Marathon route or running…before we saw images of emergency personnel, bystanders, and even chefs from Boylston Street restaurants kneeling on the street beside victims as they tried everything to save lives and limbs. And it was before we sat in front of our televisions and computers in lockdown watching images of a young, brown-eyed boy from the neighborhood splashed across the screen while the sounds of sirens and chopper blades filled our streets.
This week, we in Boston are limping back toward normalcy; Copley Square opened today while Cambridge’s main streets shut down for the Memorial Service honoring one of our victims. Still, we are trying to focus on the little things as much as possible.
On Monday this week I met with Cynthia Salten, a Board Member from The Girls Foundation of Tanzania, for a working lunch. Afterward, we walked back down Mass Ave in Central Square and talked about last week. This hesitant review of the week’s events has become standard with anyone you run into for more than a few minutes, but Cynthia said something that stuck with me; “I think the thing I notice most,” she said, “is that people are being very gentle with one another.”
She is right. It isn’t so much that we New Englanders are kinder or more talkative since the attacks. Instead, we are, for the time being anyway, more gentle. We pause for longer, listen more closely, and leave room for one another to share what wants to be shared or to be silent. It is a good reminder that in addition to all of the obvious ways we have to make the world a better place–love, sympathy, enthusiasm, a helping hand–a little gentleness can go a long way.
Wishing everyone in the Boston area a strong recovery and a peaceful, happy week to everyone.