Easter has come and gone.
Jesus Christ is risen.
And all feels right with the world.
Winter snows have finally melted.
The gift of hope and new life abound everywhere…
in the flowers blooming…
in the birds singing…
in the grass growing…
in the sand once again between my toes.
Never was hope more evident to me than one week ago, on Patriots Day, in the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon.
Under the most horrific weather conditions, 30,000 athletes took to the 26 mile 385 yard course.
I was there at the finish line and watched Desiree Linden become the first US woman to win the Marathon since 1985. What a thrill to witness!
But by far, the most poignant moment of the day came later…
I was in bed watching the late news when I heard that Mary Shertenlieb, a three-time cancer survivor, was out on the course, scheduled to cross the finish line at midnight. I knew I had to be there to root her on. I was overwhelmed at Mary’s courage and determination. I got dressed, left the Lenox Hotel (a half block from the finish line) and went outside. I couldn’t wait to see her finish.
Earlier in the day at mile 15.5, Mary was so cold and wet, she stopped running and went home to shower and change into dry clothes. She was a first time runner, who wanted to mark her five year anniversary of being diagnosed with lymphoma. Mary wanted to offer hope to others. And that, she did!
Rich, her husband and high school sweetheart, told Mary if she wanted to finish the Marathon, he would be by her side. And so they cabbed back to mile 15.5. With the winds whipping and torrential rains pouring down on them, Mary began her journey again.
Friends showed up along the way to root her on. When Mary and Rich turned onto Boylston Street and the final stretch, the finish line was finally in sight. As they ran, shouts of encouragement could be heard along their way.
I was standing at the finish line under a pitch black, rainy sky… along with many of Mary and Rich’s friends, other well-wishers, and a host of television cameras and reporters.
Police officers cleared the way as Mary and Rich, holding hands, beamed, crossing the finish line at 12:18am. There was thunderous applause as Mary and Rich embraced. In completing the 122nd Boston Marathon, Mary raised over $30,000 for Dana Farber.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd. I thanked Mary and Rich for being such an inspiration… and then headed back to my hotel room.
As I knelt by my bed that night, I thanked God for the gift of Springtime… for the gift of hope… for the gift of faith that makes all things possible.
It was a day to truly celebrate mankind… to celebrate the thousands of runners and the amazing crowds who came out in torrential rain and fierce winds to support and encourage the participants along the way.
Because I witnessed the marathon bombings five years ago, the Boston Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart. I am forever grateful for the deep impact the Marathon has played in my life and still continues to do.
Long live “Boston Strong”!
God, please continue to bless and heal Mary…
and thank You for the gift of Springtime Hope.