A Day of Miracles

 

I had the privilege earlier this month of participating in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. As you may have seen or read, Boston is the original Strides event, and this year marked the twenty-first time that people have walked along the Charles River and around the Hatch Shell to fight breast cancer. This year, in pouring rain, 40,000 walkers opted for either five miles or two miles, and raised approximately $2.7million.  In fact, since 1993, the Boston walk has raised $52 million to fund research, advocacy programs and patient care/support programs.

For the past few years, I've been assigned to the Survivor Tent. I love this assignment; to me, this one little spot is the heart of the whole event. Here, I’m able to celebrate with all those who have put breast cancer in the rear view mirror, and encourage those for whom the experience is still unfolding. By now, I've devised a system: if you are over a year out of treatment, I high-five you. If one year or less, you get a big hug. (Unless you're still sore from surgery, of course.) But either way, you are entitled to the warmth of a human touch, to a rousing cheer and show of support. This year, I met hundreds of women who have survived from two months to twenty-two years, and every one of them hugged me back, warmly and lovingly. Many of these survivors were accompanied by their whole support system, husbands, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, friends, co-workers.  Some people had three or four supporters, some had a dozen. Lots of teams were dressed in delightful costumes, head to toe pink, T-shirts, hats, scarves, and socks. Even the dogs were wearing pink coats and collars! Parents pushing babies in strollers, elderly with canes…And all soaked through from the rain, and seemingly not caring one bit. People sang in the rain, danced in the rain, walked in the rain, and jogged in the rain.

So there we had survivors, caregivers, singers, dancers, walkers, joggers, and ….God. Oh, yes, God was there, too. You could feel His presence, sense His Spirit of love throughout the day. He was there in the laughter, and in the tears. He was there in the hope, and in the determination. I listened to women tell me that God had brought them there for a purpose, and I believed that. I saw one young woman, there with her husband and young son, with a fairly aggressive type of cancer. Her prognosis is just not quite as good as some others. And suddenly, she almost physically bumped into a wonderful woman, also with young children, who is beating exactly the same type of cancer. The meeting produced tears all around, tears of love and gratitude and support. But then, we don't believe in coincidence, do we? We believe in a God who reaches out to comfort everyone who suffers. I met two women with breast cancer that had metastasized to their lungs and their brains.  Both of them were joyfully walking in the rain, giving hope to everyone who heard their stories.

And I was left with one other reflection that day: if God can bring together 40,000 people in the rain, people of all faiths, races, economic circumstances, political affiliations, ages ...You get the picture. If He can do this with a band of volunteers dedicated to fighting the effects of just one disease, what else could He do if we let Him? What could we do in our local community? For His praise? For our neighbors? Could we begin something for Him that would fill our little town of Saugus?  It's worth pondering.

Linda Riley

Linda is a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament.

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