The perseverance and courage of athletes inspire us every Patriots' Day—that holiday when the sturdy virtues which founded our nation echo on the Lexington green. Under April skies our hearts lift. We cheer. We thrill at the Kenyans and Ethiopians and we yell for the twenty-something from Shrewsbury, the homemaker from Missouri, the 78 year-old from Seattle. We offer cups of water. We gasp as the wheelchairs rumble over the tracks at Cleveland Circle. We make Rosie Ruiz jokes. It is strong and simple, this snaking, hilly, sometimes cold, sometimes sweltering, sometimes cold and sweltering, race of humanity 23,000 strong which thunders through our suburbs and our neighborhoods and our hearts each year.
We shake our heads at their exhaustion, their pain, the extremity of their endurance and their will. They stumble and pick themselves up; they help each other up. It's hard for some of us to understand why anyone would do what they do. Each one has a story, and whether a finisher or not, whether it's a personal best or not, the grit and the spirit and the wholeheartedness of each and every one of them sings of the human spirit which will try and try and fall and rise and rise again.
The message out of the horror of the 117th Boston Marathon is for me a marathon message—it is something about the road being very long and the hills being very steep; it says that the long haul requires great stamina, and, assistance from those who travel with you and from those whom you pass along the way. It is a story of daring to not give up even though you cannot see the finish line. It is a story of rising and rising again. Innocence has been destroyed, but goodness lives to rise and rise again.
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