My training was more important for me than ever this past week. So far, my running has been about getting the miles in and keeping up with the training schedule. But the past few days, I have needed my running to clear my head and my heart after a week of sad events.
Tuesday evening, a beautiful and sweet thirty-something wife and mom from my church passed away from breast cancer, leaving behind a husband and four-year old daughter. She had been given 3-6 months only a couple weeks ago. Tuesday was also the day a friend of mine waited on pins and needles while her one-year-old son was in surgery for 13 hours. The chief neuro-surgeon at Riley removed a tumor the size of a small orange from his brian. This week was also the three year anniversary of the tragic accident my friend’s husband endured on a lawn mower, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. The sting and sadness and constant healing struggle of a day like that doesn’t disappear in three years. And Saturday night, I watched the news in sadness and shock as the Indiana State Fair stage collapsed into the crowd, killing four and injuring so many people who were simply waiting to enjoy a good concert.
This week, life felt achingly fragile. Each night, I held Heidi a little longer, snuggled her tighter, and longed to sleep with her tucked next to me all night. I wanted my husband to stay home from work so we could just be together because suddenly, the next day seemed so fleeting and unsure.
Yes, I had lots of miles to run to train for the race. But we seemed to be surrounded by events this week that broke so many hearts around us. It was difficult to see, and at one point, I found myself feeling depressed about it all. I was overwhelmed at how unfair and ugly life can be. I was also overwhelmed at how lucky and blessed I was to be seemingly unscathed thus far. Why me? Why so many blessings? Why so much suffering for my friends right now? In fact, Wednesday evening I was supposed to do a 7 mile run. Instead I wanted to curl up under my covers and eat chocolate. Which…I did do, to be totally honest…but then around 8pm, Cody convinced me I’d feel better if I ran.
So I did. And I thought a lot in the quiet of the beautiful evening. The moon was high, the sun was setting, the sky was that ever-deepening color of blue, there was a breeze, and the night sounds were already loud and clear.
In the stillness, with only the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, I prayed. I prayed for the family and friends of Laurie, who passed away from breast cancer Tuesday night. I prayed for her husband and four-year old daughter and all the dear family and friends who ache with her passing.
I prayed for my friend whose little boy, only a week older than Heidi, had a brain tumor the size of a small orange. I thanked God a million times that it was taken out via surgery, and he is smiling in his mom’s arms in the ICU as I type this.
I prayed for my friend and her husband, who mourn the loss of their old life each and every day since the accident three years ago. It’s amazing to see how God transfigures people through awful things that happen.
I prayed for those affected by the stage collapse last night. The suddenness of injury and loss of life can be overwhelming, and I prayed for peace and healing for those struggling to make sense of it.
I prayed for those who are surrounded by tragedies like all of these every single day…for those who witness death on a regular basis, those whose hearts break every day for their starving children, and for those who could possibly be helped by one simple well placed in their village. The very idea we could affect not just a village, but generations, puts hope back in my heart. It’s incredible the way we can change things. Babies can have clean water. Mommas can rest easy. Daddies can provide for their families.
And for that, I give thanks. For SO MUCH, I give thanks.
I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy siak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us? -ann voskamp
Please donate to help us build a well for an African village by clicking here: http://www.active.com/donate/activewaterupick/jamierunsforwater. You can donate one lump sum or pledge a certain amount per mile of the Indianapolis Marathon.