Running has always seemed the most democratic of sports. The tempting reality that any one of us could lace up a pair of sneakers, open our front door and simply start running has always filled me with a deep sense of pride and delight in those who do just that. Without fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships, “everyday joes” exercise their will power and determination by just doing it.
The nobility of the human spirit. The triumph of the human will.
I don’t want to get too mushy on this but I know that’s why I tear up cheering the runners each year in the Chicago Marathon. I watch school teachers and accountants; lithe dancers and saggy desk jobbers, old and young pass by — people who sit for a living — now showing me and the rest of us what grit, determination and faithful practice can achieve. Their individual triumph lifts the rest of us somehow. Making us believe we can do more too.
When the news first began unfolding I immediately checked on the various friends running in Boston. A young friend in his 20’s eager to run the “big 7” marathons, another runner, a bit older, a tri-athlete, running Boston for the first time. Relief was the first emotion. Anger followed by a profound sadness was next.
Anger that their individual accomplishment is now forever linked with tragedy. Anger that the triumph and nobility of what it means to be ‘man truly alive’ (in the words of Irenaeus) was undercut so dramatically by the meanness, the lowliness of our humanity. Sadness of course, because it is senseless, because breathing people of possibility became corpses too soon, because some days violence and hate seem to be winning, because I feel so helpless and collectively we seem to be so weak.
I don’t want that emotion to be what lingers about the 2013 Boston Marathon. So today I’m going to chose something different. I’m choosing to celebrate the goodness, the heroism, the bravery of exhausted runners who tended to the injured. I’m choosing to honor the triumph of those who ran – even though they were blocked from finishing. I’m choosing to grieve alongside the victims. But ultimately I’m choosing to live with the sure belief that Love Wins. In this life and in the next. That all ennobling acts of dignity, love and compassion live on forever and that one day the One worshipped throughout the ages will establish a Kingdom of Peace on earth as it is in heaven.
I’m going to choose to just do it.