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Faith Community Comforts Bostonians


Joining us now is the Right Reverend Gayle Harris. She is suffragan bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Massachusetts. Welcome to you. Thank you so much for joining us.

REVEREND GAYLE HARRIS: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: How are you seeing faith communities across the city and the state react to this?

HARRIS: I have heard from various groups around the state by email and phone calls, people concerned, offering help. I know that many of our churches are opening their doors tonight when people are returning from work. And here in the downtown area, there are services being held by various denominations.

Our cathedral, St. Paul, here right on the Common, has its doors open now, and they will be open all day so that people can come in and pray to relieve themselves of their fear, their doubts, their anxieties, and to offer the prayerful power of love to those who are missing their loved ones who have died, as well as those who are recovering, and for those who are immediately - those giving immediate care to the victims of yesterday's bombing.

MARTIN: Speaking of, you know, fear, anger and shock, how are you interpreting this, as a person of faith, for those who look to you for leadership at a time like this? And if you don't mind, how are you doing?

HARRIS: Well, I'm doing fine, thank you. Though I am deeply grieved for this incident - as I am with anything that happens in this country or around the world where there's senseless violence and death. I think people are in shock. The question I hear over and over again is: Why? And while we may hope to find than answer of why a person would do such a thing, especially with innocent people standing by, even if we know why, that will not bring back people.

And so people are really concerned that we, again, find ourselves in a place of understanding that God is with us, even in the midst of this terrible, terrible tragedy, and that we can live with confidence, even if we don't completely understand why. I don't think we can understand why that such hatred, anger infects a person's heart to do something as senseless and evil as this.

MARTIN: Speaking of that, are you concerned that this will lead the mind to go to some terrible places, even among - particularly among the people who are most affected by this? I mean, you cannot forget that, you know, an eight-year-old boy was killed, you know, minutes after he'd hugged his father at the finish line and I think that that is just something that a lot of people are going to have a lot of trouble getting over.

HARRIS: Yes. And I'm sure, if it was my own family person, anger would be there because there are other ways to express one's dissatisfaction or anger or whatever that's going on in those hearts and minds that caused such a tragedy, and anger would be a natural reaction to this, but we can't dwell there. We must go beyond that to help those who have survived and those who are grieving. We can't stay there because life is calling us to understand that good and hope and joy and light can overcome any darkness, any hatred, any anger. And for us to live in anger is living in the same place as anyone who would do something like this. We must understand that that's part of who we are, but we cannot stay there.

MARTIN: Finally, before we let you go - and thank you for taking the time. You have many responsibilities and we're going to let you return to them shortly. Do you have some wisdom for people who don't share your faith worldview, who don't believe in a higher power and something deeper? Do you have some wisdom for those who do not share your particular faith perspective, but who are also searching for meaning at a time like this?

HARRIS: I would say if one does not believe in God in whatever form that may be, one must believe at least in the spirit of this world that continues to strive for not only just being comfortable, but that the spirit and life be free. That is a yearning across humanity, that we always seek to go to the higher ground and we must not let incidences like this bring us down to a place that equates our feelings with those who seek to do us harm.

MARTIN: The Right Reverend Gayle Harris is bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. She was kind enough to join us from her office in Boston.

Bishop, thank you so much for speaking with us. I hope we'll speak again under happier circumstances.

HARRIS: I do, too. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.