"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Matthew Freeman Race for Peace, Part 1

On August 7, 2009, my friend Lisa's son, Captain Matthew Freeman, was mortally wounded in Afghanistan when Taliban insurgents took him and his comrades by surprise while they were conducting a reconnaissance mission he was leading just outside of camp.  As the soldier who retrieved his body would tell, Matthew "was found dead with his finger on the trigger, his magazine almost empty, and he was facing the enemy.  A proud death for a Marine."  And so when my daughter told me she wanted to take a girls' trip and run in the Matthew Freeman Run for Peace for her birthday, I was all over it.  (Matthew's sister Ginny and Marynan had been best friends when we lived in Richmond Hill.  It was a tribute we both wanted to pay.)

Of course, the problem with all of this was that I had never run a 5K.  In fact, I probably haven't run a mile since my first child was conceived.  But this was for a worthy cause and I was bound, bit and determined I was going to do it.  Until, that is, the day of the race approached.  I had really planned on training, but by the time I packed my bag for the overnight trip, I was resolved to sit on the sideline, and so I didn't even pack my "running" shoes (which have NEVER been used for running).  When we were on our way, and too far from home to turn around, I told the girls of my decision.  I really didn't think they'd care, but they truly seemed disappointed and began encouraging me to reconsider.  Of course, I had the perfect excuse.  "I have nothing to wear."  They had the perfect answer: "We can stop by Target after dinner and get you some shorts and shoes."  And so we did.  [Side note: when we got to my friend Julie's house, she had some "exercise attire" and running shoes that fit me perfectly.  Thanks, Julie!]  I shot off a quick email to a runner-friend of mine, telling him of my venture, and then pulled the covers over my head to get some much needed sleep. 

But somewhere in the night, I began to toss and turn over my new decision, drifting again ... to the other side.  What was I thinking???  Who was I fooling?  I am 53 years old, for crying out loud, and I haven't even WALKED a mile in the last 6 weeks!  What made me think I could participate, much less RUN, a 5K?  No doubt, I would be the one at the end that makes it to the finish line only by being carried away on a stretcher with flashing lights and sirens whirring somewhere in my distant consciousness.  

And so 5:30 a.m. arrived and it was settled.  I would wait at the finish line with my camera in hand and capture my daughter and daughter-in-love's triumphant crossings.  Until, that is, I read the email that had come in from my runner-friend during the night:  "When you cross the finish line, look at all the people who did not even try.  Placing first or last won't matter.  Have fun.  Enjoy the moment, it is the only one like it."

Dang it.  

Did I mention I had also been praying through the night?  Because I hadn't received any "word," I took that as my answer.  A big fat NO!  Until the email, that is.  Anybody who knows me at all, knows that I want to be about the moment.  The "now."  That part of "time" that cannot be measured ... but is only eternal.    

And so I donned my number, double tied my shoelaces, and placed my foot on the starting line....  [More to come.]

Just an ordinary moment...

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