I ran a marathon once…
Today’s post comes from Theresa, the eldest Backyard Sister.
I ran a marathon once. I ran because my life was a train wreck right then and I was afraid if I didn’t get up and move I would never get up again. I ran to learn how to just breathe. I ran to be a part of something larger than me.
I spent months training, long hours alone with my thoughts and the sound of my ragged breaths. I learned to love the smell of early morning and the peace of downtown before shops opened and the sidewalks filled with people hurrying to begin their day. I came to appreciate the soft breeze of twilight and the gentle shapes of nightfall when the world is infused with the last bit of sunlight. Trees, leaves green and then brilliant with fall, and birds with their busy chatter and endless fluttering kept me company. As did my faithful training companion, a middle-aged Jack Russell terrier whose exuberance for life and tireless motion inspired me to keep going many days when I didn’t think I could. I ran in rain and wind and cold and wondered if I was crazy. I discovered that I could struggle with self-doubt or pain or fatigue and emerge still moving, still breathing, still alive.
I ran that marathon, 26.2 miles, each mile an adventure. Through it all, people lined the path, there on a Sunday morning in January for no other reason than to show support for a group of strangers who had an idea they would challenge themselves to do something really hard and were there to accomplish their dream. When I finally came around the last corner, there was a crowd of spectators and runners who had already finished, calling out encouragement and congratulations, helping us celebrate what we had done. I have kept these lessons I learned in my heart – one foot in front of the other, breathe, things get better in time; run after life, even when you aren’t sure where you are going; and there are many more good people in the world than bad.
And so this brings me to the events of the week, the bombing at the Boston Marathon, how to make sense of something so senseless, so purely evil. How to live with the images forever etched into my brain, runners reaching the finish line, the joy of that moment, the cheers of the crowd juxtaposed with the sound of explosion, the smoke and screams, blood and shattered glass. I have struggled with this contrast all week, angry and deeply saddened that someone chose a marathon as a backdrop for murder and tremendously moved by the stories of courage and sacrifice that are emerging. Stories of strangers comforting the injured and saving lives, strangers offering a bed and food to those stranded by the bombing, people who when faced with a situation they never dreamed possible embraced the challenge and ran forward to help. What I have decided is that there will always be good and evil and shades in between, always the overlay, always the pattern, there is no making sense of it, it just is.
I have stopped looking at the pictures and videos because they live in my mind now, the contrast of the horror of the bombing with the celebration of the day. I play them over and over, trying to rewrite the ending like I do when I wake up after a bad dream. And I am starting to see other parts of the picture emerge, I see people bent over the wounded, I see those who rushed in and began the terrible work of saving lives and I am beginning to realize that in the same moment of great darkness is the light of goodness we all contain, in the moment we are most fragile, there is great strength. And I do believe that good always triumphs over evil, maybe not at first, but always in the end, I am holding on to that thought – to ponder more during my next run.
You can read more by Theresa. Her essay “Lessons From Winter” is here.