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Posted By Opening the Heart

    Friday March 15th was the first day that friends and family began to have an awareness that Sunil Trapathi was "missing". Sunil is an Indian- American student at Brown University in Providence. His parents live in Pennsylvania but they had been in Rhode Island to help in the heartbreaking search for their son. Sunil has an older brother and sister who have working tirelessly in and around Providence hanging pictures on store fronts, on telephone poles and in meeting places. They describe him as a wonderful brother who had been on a medical leave of absence from Brown because he was struggling with depression. The day before he was listed as missing, he spoke to his grandmother and aunt, who both love him. Over the past six weeks, a whole community came to love him. On Facebook, people, many who'd never met Sunil, sent messages of love written on a left hand or a right hand: "Sunil, do not give up hope"; "You are not alone"; "I, too, have suffered in the past"; "Don't give up, you are loved". The fact that a whole community could come together, to help search and to help send love and relieve suffering made an impression on me.

   One night, as my wife and I left a restaurant on Thayer Street near Brown, we saw Sunil's smiling face on a telephone pole and we felt an ache in our hearts for his family. Many in the  community came to meet Sunil's family when they knocked on doors to ask if their son, Sunil, had been seen. All leads came to nothing until a Brown student, a rower, found Sunil's body in the Seekonk River just days ago. Yes, there was some closure, but the circle of friends and kind caring souls turned their attention from searching to comforting. There was so much compassionate caring and love. People who were strangers now had a common bond and would smile and talk to one another....

   The news reports a week ago said it was "like no other week in the history of Boston". Lockdowns, late night shootouts, grenades and police chaces. Murder, senseless deaths and horrible injuries of people wanting to simply enjoy a beautiful spring day and an annual tradition of the Boston Marathon. The word that witnesses kept repeating was "surreal" which means "having an oddly dreamlike quality". They were referring not just to the death, horror and maiming, but to acts of incredible heroism and kindness: people running toward the explosions to get the wounded medical help or simply to apply a tournequet. Only minutes before the explosions, these people were strangers, who may well not have smiled at each other in passing or said hello, were now connected in a life and death drama.

   So I wondered why many of us wait for for an excuse or a disaster in order to be kind. Why not practice it in some small way right now: letting a driver go ahead of us instead of getting home 14 seconds early; an offer in the parking lot to help an older shopper load thir car with bags; a smile as we walk past someone on the street. Why wait? Do you remember how connected and friendly so many of us felt after 9/11? The Dalai Lama once said, when asked what his religion was: kindness. Maybe we could practice that religion when it's not a life or death matter, because, in truth, in many ways, it is a life and death matter.

   With Love and Respect, Jon Jon