This morning, I will get up and go for a run. I fancy myself an amateur runner. Ask me if I ever thought I’d say that. But now it is one of my spiritual practices. Don’t let anyone tell you that a good running play list isn’t a different kind of hymnody.
Like many of us, I was rocked to my core one year ago today by the bombings on the Boston marathon. While I no longer live in Boston, I consider it my home. The first bombing happened on the doorstep of my beloved faith community, Old South Church. My dearest friend from seminary narrowly avoided grave injury and death.
In the days and hours that followed those blasts, I cried out to God on many occasions. I struggled to make sense of senseless violence at an event defined by peace and resilience. I prayed the 23rd Psalm over and over again, allowing the words to pour over my soul. I don’t believe that God causes bombs to explode at finish lines, but God can work for good out of unspeakable horror. We’ve seen God’s presence over and over again this past year.
It’s not the Boston Marathon, but this year I am praying in a different way. Saturday my best friend and I will run the BAA 5K. My beloved, worn, mud-laden running shoes have carried me many miles. This Saturday, they will carry me 3.2 more. I will not complain if my time is slower than I hope for, my muscles sore, or I walk more than I’d like. I will simply be grateful that I can.
This Saturday’s run is dedicated to Krystle, Martin, Lingzi and Sean.
This Saturday’s run is dedicated to my dearest friend from seminary and the other survivors who were at the finish line this day.
This Saturday’s run is dedicated to my beloved Old South Church (“The Church of the Finish Line”) who has not let the violence make of us haters, but is wrapping the world in love and courage in the form of blue and yellow scarves from all over the world... Shaken, but not forsaken. Struck down but not destroyed.
Wherever you are today and this weekend will you join us by praying with your feet? And as you do, let this be our prayer:
O God, we pray for a world where bombs at the finish line are no more. May our running shoes and resilience help us to beat swords into plowshares. May we be like the knitters of over 6000 scarves, knitting God’s world back together one stitch at a time. Holy one, in those days following the marathon you were Emmanuel, God with us. You are our tender shepherd who does not leave her sheep alone, even and especially in times of need. Help us to hear you living out your promise on this tender, holy, emotional remembrance, I am with you always.
Oh and God? Because you taught us to pray for our enemies, we pray for the Tsarnaev brothers too, even though it is still painful and we do not understand. They are your children too. Guide our feet, and do not let us run this race in vein. Amen.
A big SALT thank you to Heidi Carrington Heath, pastor, queer, femme, amateur runner, gymnastics and olympics fan, amateur politico, and Bravo TV addict. Follow Heidi on Twitter: @queerminister. And, thanks to Wally Gobetz for this strong photo finish.