Sunday, June 6, 2010
The Real Relay for Life (by Judy)
Very early yesterday morning, I participated on a Relay for Life team. This is an organization that raises money for cancer research by encouraging people to put together teams who obtain pledges, and then walk, think, pray and laugh together over a 24 hour period. As I fitfully slept the night before, waiting for the alarm to go off, listening to the thunder and rain, selfishly being grateful that I was under dry covers while my darkest-of-night teammates were walking (doubly selfishly justifying my thought by saying they are half my age), I had no idea what a moving experience awaited me.
When I arrived, the skies were just opening up to the rose and lavender of a beautiful sunrise. Coffee was waiting, and as I started my loops around the track, some of the faithful were holding a sunrise service. A lone woman sang Morning Has Broken. As her voice rose above the walkers, the words grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Cat Stevens couldn’t have done any better.
Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven, Like the first dewfall, on the first grass; Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden; Sprung in completeness where his feet pass.
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning; Born of the one light, Eden saw play; Praise with elation, praise every morning; God's recreation of the new day.
I passed hundreds of luminaries with names on them, some those who have passed, and some who are survivors. Every name spoke of heart-wrenching challenge, but also of love. There were walkers and their supporters all around me, some looking bleary-eyed, some goofy in attire guaranteed to promote laughter, some chatting, some solitary – but all united in brave purpose.
It made me weep with sorrow and joy. I was so proud to be a small part of this collective good – but I also thought about the other great needs in our world. Secular ones, like the tragedy along the Gulf Coast; political, like the anger that spews from the airwaves and from regular conversation; and above all spiritual, like the deep loneliness experienced by those not anchored in faith. Two verses kept running through my mind from Hebrews, verses which are part of every Christian’s Relay for Life - “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” and “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”