I awoke with a jolt on Monday morning as the NPR host announced the news of “a metro explosion in St. Petersburg, Russia.”
Many thoughts and feelings have coursed through my being since the news began to sink in. Fourteen dead, and more than sixty injured. I mourn the loss of the mothers, fathers, spouses, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, and co-workers that were injured or lost their lives in this senseless act of terror. And I grieve for their friends and families.
My emotions are raw, graphic and intense because I lived in St. Petersburg several years ago while working as an English teacher at Baltic State Technical University (Voenmeh).
The 3 April bomb detonated shortly after the train departed the Tekhnologichesky Institut Metro Station. This is the Metro closest to Voenmeh. During my time in St. Petersburg, I rode the escalators and walked this station’s platforms at least 20 times per week as one of the 2.1 million daily commuters.
As Monday progressed, my concern and prayers turned toward friends and residents of St. Petersburg. The Metro had been closed. Another bomb had been located and safely defused near the Metro station at Ploshchad Vosstaniya. Millions of residents needed to get safely home without the Metro. As I was checking in with several friends on Facebook, a friend texted a picture of the horrible traffic jam he was stuck in. Total gridlock!
Other stories began to surface about selfless acts of courage — Metro passengers helping the injured and fellow passengers out of the Metro, quick response of emergency services, strangers offering rides to stranded commuters, and a quickly organized social media network to some of those “millions” in need of a ride. Truly amazing!
This evening my thoughts respectfully reflect on the generation of victims and survivors of one of the greatest horrors of the twentieth century — The Siege of Leningrad (2 years, 4 months, 2 weeks, and 5 days) of terror, destruction, starvation, and death. Your generation miraculously survived unspeakable terror. Your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren reflected your courage (muzhestva) on Monday. And they will carry on in that same spirit of muzhestva as they courageously board the Metro tomorrow and continue on with work, school, church and the rest of life in the upcoming days and weeks.
Nearly eight years since departing on an early morning flight from Pulkovo, my Russian and expat friends are still part of my collective conscience. Piter (St. Petersburg) resides very close to my heart and soul despite distance and the passage of time.
It is past time to dust off my passport, complete that annoying visa application, and visit my muse when I am able.
Piter, I love you! I hold no concern regarding disagreements between the flags that we live under. You are friends and family! And you are at the center of my thoughts and prayers.
These words of Jesus ring true in my heart for you:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33