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What the dead might ask of us: A prayer for the living

Acting in Faith  |  By Lucy Duncan, Apr 17, 2013
Hearts in Boston by Brian D'Amico

Hearts in Boston by Brian D'Amico

Photo: Brian D'Amico / Brian D'Amico

“No more hurting people. Peace.”                                 -  Martin Richard, 8, killed at the Boston Marathon    bombings





The blast sends shock waves

Waves of fear, of anger, of confusion

Waves of caring, of love, of tenderness

Images of the explosions and of the bleeding cut to the heart

Who could do such a thing?


The day after the bombings, CNN runs ads for home security systems

“Don’t wait for someone to rob you, call now to make your house safe.”

Why waste the opportunity to make money?

Let’s peddle the illusion that security can be bought

A “security expert” talks about how Al Qaeda used the same kind of bombs

The implication is clear: “terrorists are Muslim.”


A young Saudi man, a victim of the bombing

Is “tackled” while running from the blast

“He looked suspicious”

Is “guarded” at his bedside in the hospital

His apartment is searched in a “startling show of force”

His roommate questioned for five hours


“Exhausted runners… kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood.

If you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil—that’s it.

Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid,” says Obama.

True that.  Except…


Holding our breath

As afraid of the aftershocks as we are of the initial blast

Wondering what retribution might come

What horrors this bombing might justify


Instead, can we breathe?

What might Martin Richard ask of us?

Pray for Boston, for Newtown, for Yemen, for Pakistan

Pray with our feet for healing


Maybe the dead are longing

For the living to use our hands

To stop the next blast now

To give our blood for love

To put our bodies on the line

To end this cycle


To have faith there is a finish line in the marathon for peace



About the Author

Lucy serves as Director of Friends Relations for AFSC. She blogs, organizes Quakers to work for justice, and has helped create AFSC's Sanctuary Everywhere stream of program work. She has been instrumental in the adaptation of Quaker social change ministry as a tool for reclaiming Spirit-guided social change work focused on companioning those most impacted by injustice. She has been a storyteller for 20 years and has worked with Quaker meetings on telling stories for racial justice and of spiritual experience.

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About Friends Relations

Lucy Duncan works with other AFSC staff to foster strong relationships between AFSC and Quakers.

Lucy is AFSC’s Director of Friends Relations. She has been a storyteller for 20 years and has worked with Quaker meetings on telling stories for racial justice and of spiritual experience. She attends Green Street Friends Meeting (PhYM) and lives with her son and partner in a Quaker cemetery.

Sophia is the Friends Relations Fellow this year who works closely with Lucy. She is a recent graduate of Guilford College where she majored in Sustainable Food Systems and Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies.