I ran in my first 5K in many years today. It was to raise money for Ovarian Cancer. I had told my wife I thought we should do a 5K some day and to my surprise she called me yesterday (Friday) and said she found one. Our motivation is a young woman whom we both have known for decades. I met her in my seminary days, right before I left for Leuven. She was about 12 or 13 then. Her family sort of took me under their care. Her mom and dad were both dear to me and in the almost 35 years since then although we do not see each other often, every time I do is a source of joy. I love their family.
The race itself was a typical experience. I was able to meet my goal (and exceed it a little). The distance is not really a long run, but it is long enough. At the end you are tired. You are also energized. There were 751 runners so it was a big group. [There are always people behind you to make you feel like a winner!]
What was most moving to me was the connections between people. A woman from the parish joined us as she had played ball in high school with the young woman whose team we ran on. A former parishioner was also there, she herself being a survivor of ten years. "Every day is a gift" she told me "and I try not to sweat the small stuff." Sage advice indeed.
Many shirts included memorials. I choke up when I see "for my mom. I still miss her" taped to the back of one runner or another. My mom got cancer twice. Her heart eventually did her in. Or her lungs. Doctors argued that one back and forth. The loss of someone so important in your life is never easy. It is a reminder to tell people you love them when you get the chance.
Being in a large group of people on a sunny day was very exhilarating. It puts you in a good mood. (No doubt running adds to that). Exercise. Raising money for a good cause. Seeing old friends. Taking a moment to be aware of how each day really is a gift. All of it a blessing. I wish I could find a way to pack it up and send it out to all my loved ones. I guess I can only tell them: it is there for us to grab if we choose.
I have run into several people recently (last night and today) who told me they read the blog. It is nice to know. I always wonder when I see a number each day who that represents. In many cases, it is you, someone I love dearly and spent some part of my life sharing daily adventures. Maybe you were in high school then and now are the father (or mother) of your own teens. Maybe it was at a parish, or at school, or at youth villages. Whatever it was, know that I count it a blessing to have known you and shared the moments. Know also, that however wonderful it was, we have not seen anything yet! The glory of a sunny day or seeing old friends is as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed. Good news indeed. Even for folks struggling with cancer, loss and other pain!