I don’t like to call myself a runner.
Because that seems to imply that you love the discipline, that you’re good at it, that you’re fast.
A runner sets personal records and runs through the pain.
At best, I’m a kind of slow walk/jogger who runs sometimes.
But I’ve run two half marathon and various other shorter distance races. I’ve spent the hours training for a long run and felt the wonderment that you can indeed do something you thought impossible (and various parts of your body did, too).
I know the comaraderie of the running community, the adrenaline of running a race you’ve trained for, and the joy of completing that goal and crossing the finish line.
Maybe that’s why yesterday’s events at the Boston Marathon have hit me so hard.
Because I know what those runners were thinking as they neared that finish line. They weren’t thinking about bombs or terrorism or terror or any of the words we’ve bandied around in the hours since those bombs went off.
They were thinking about finishing.
They’d been running for hours and most were in the final miles of a grueling race. The finish line was in sight.
Some greeted it with enthusiasm and a rush of adrenaline.
Some probably saw it as the end of a painful race.
Others saw it as the physical embodiment of a dream accomplished. You have to earn entry into the Boston Marathon, qualifying at another race with a fast enough time. For many runners, the Boston Marathon is a dream race, the goal, the pinnacle.
A few probably sprinted to the finish line.
People in the stands and lining the street cheered. Boston schools were closed and the bustle of the city was shut down and focused on the race.
It was a celebration. A happy time. An achievement.
And then it wasn’t.
What should have been a happy moment for so many, suddenly became one of terror, tragedy, and horror.
Dehydration and exhaustion you expect after a long race; shrapnel, no.
But the reality is that in many countries around the world, what happened yesterday in Boston is part of daily life. People head out into their daily lives knowing that everything can change in an instant. Yesterday’s events made me realize a little of what it’s like to live in countries where the threat of danger is never really far from anyone’s mind. Where mothers lose children on a daily basis. Where people bear scars for the rest of their lives.
Boston has sobered me and reminded me that this world is not perfect. That it’s not even home. There are glimmers of joy and beauty and truth, but it is not the hope we’re living for.
And yesterday, I turned to the only true Hope, Jesus, as I cried for the people affected in Boston.
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” —John 16:33