I am a runner. Not a very good one, but a runner, just the same. For a long time, I’ve been a runner. I started as a really lousy cross country runner in high school in the 70’s and for most of my life, I’ve been a runner. Lousy. And persistent.
A few years ago, at age 47, I accomplished one of the top items on my bucket list. I finished a marathon. Not fast. Nothing to write home about. I simply finished.
And I cannot describe in words the exhilaration I felt when I crossed that finish line. No matter how you slice it, 26.2 miles is a helluva long ways. It seemed to me superhuman. I am not superhuman. And yet I did it. The Green Bay Press Gazette will attest to the fact that I indeed crossed the finish line. In four hours and sixteen minutes.
In fact, that exhilaration is the very reason that I’ve run 5 more marathons since then. I don’t really enjoy the training. I don’t really enjoy the race. I exult in the feeling of accomplishment when the finish line stands behind me. Crazy, huh? That I would endure 16 weeks of hard training and four and a half hours of hell just for those fleeting moments of exhilaration? Yet, I speak the truth. All of that for a brief moment of accomplishment.
So, the news of the bombings at the Boston Marathon touched me deeply. I think about my own wife and son cheering me on at the finish line just outside Lambeau Field. I think of what has felt for me like the triumph of the human will and spirit. And how that was brutally stolen from so many people today.
I decry the violence. I decry the loss of life. I’m sad at the many injured whose lives were changed in a single moment today.
Yet strangely, I am equally saddened at this attack on the human spirit. There is something unique about those who aspire to this extraordinary feat and who accomplish it. It’s not necessarily about speed. It’s not necessarily about competition. It’s about setting out to do something that on the surface seems crazy, impossible, beyond the bounds of human capacity. When I first told our parish nurse that I was training for a marathon, she replied, “Human beings were not meant to run that far!” And yet we do. We find a way.
For me, that’s what evil attacked today. Not just human life, but the human spirit.
I will not give in. Tomorrow, I’m going to discover the next marathon I’m going to run in. I’m going to go for a long run tomorrow in honor of those runners who did not get to finish and those spectators who were injured and in memory of those who lost their life.
And I am resolving once again to honor what I believe is wonderful in the way God has created us: to aspire, to work, to train, to accomplish, to push, to use these wonderfully created bodies for good and not for evil.
And in the morning when I run, this will be my anthem (thanks to Bishop Desmond Tutu):
Goodness is stronger evil;
love is stronger than hate;
light is stronger than darkness;
life is stronger than death.
Victory is ours, victory is ours,
through Him who loved us.