Running is such a great metaphor for life.
It began as an ordinary Saturday morning run with the Greenville Running Group. We were running our regular Starbucks’ route from Greenville Boulevard to the Town Commons and the Greenway. I effortlessly covered the distance of the first two miles before I even realized it. Into the third mile, I was confidently running down Charles, past Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, as I had many times in the past. I had this. Life was good. I was all smiles, on cruise control.
Then without warning, early into mile three, I really stepped into it. Without seeing it, I managed to step into a metal hoop that was in the road, about 18 inches in diameter. My right heel caught the back of the hoop and stood it up. My left foot joined my right foot inside the hoop and down I went. Before I knew exactly what happened, I was laying in the gutter of Charles Boulevard. Muddy and bloody, my knees took the brunt of the fall.
Three of my running friends rushed to my aid, empathetically asked me if I was okay, then reached down and helped pick me up out of the gutter. They did not judge me for not looking where I was planting my feet, nor did they express any disappointment that I had interrupted their run. They only expressed compassion for me.
They led me to the Duck-Thru convenience store at the corner on 14th Street where they found a spigot to wash my wounds. One of my friends came out of the store with a first aid kit. Another friend, with her own hands, took some gauze from the kit and made sure my abrasions were clean.
Willing to sacrifice their run, they offered to walk back with me to my car. However, their compassion was more than I needed to encourage me to press on and finish the run. Ten miles later, I completed one of the best runs ever.
The scriptures say: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1). Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
May God forgive us for arrogantly thinking that we can do this thing called “life” alone. And may God give us the grace to love one another, to link up with one another in mutual care and compassion, to feel responsibility for one another, and to run this race together.