MCC, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2010
Have you ever had one of those moments where you imagine your future self, thinking back to the present time, but as a memory? You’re doing something that you know is completely worthwhile, and there is nowhere else you’d rather be and no one else you’d rather be with. You’re there, in that future memory, smiling and laughing and wishing you could make the moment last longer than it ever will. And even though you know that’s impossible, that this moment will fade away and lose a little of itself, piece by piece, you imagine, just for a moment, that this moment is timeless. You imagine that this moment is actually not a moment, but a photograph, and that it will never lose its detail or color or luster. I had one of those moments today. It was more like a couple of hours, and they were spent outside Target House, lining the street with my mom and little sister and my physical therapist Christina, who has come to be one of my best friends. I in my wheelchair and my mother in her cap (just kidding; that was a reference to “The Night Before Christmas”).
But really, I was in my wheelchair, and Mama was in her coat, and so hwere all of us. And we were lining the streets because the St. Jude marathon was going on. It was rumored that this year, there were over 6,500 runners. And we sat there cheering and shouting and clapping because they were all running for us. They were all running for me. And for one of the first times, I realized that I’m not the only one fighting my cancer. I’ve known that my family and friends have been behind me. Don’t get me wrong. But for the first time, the people who make St. Jude possible, the people who donate to St. Jude, had faces. And they were all running past me.
Strangers kept pointing at me and yelling, “This is for you!” And my physical therapist, Christina, who is leaving next week to go home and graduate, was standing beside me, smiling and laughing. I just wanted to press pause because things seemed a little bit perfect. I looked up and saw tears running down the face of Miss Becky, another patient’s mom. I started to cry, but I cleared the tears away because I wanted to spend time laughing and smiling with Christina instead. I saw six girls from my school running by wearing “Team Maggie May” t-shirts. I don’t know how else to explain it but to say that I was filled with an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude. The people who ran did that for me and all the kids who are like me. I hope that, one day, I can do something to fight cancer as well. I guarantee it won’t be running, but I hope it well be even more powerful.
Notice two things in this journal entry: the sense of joy and gratitude and the sense of timelessness and perfection. Here Maggie seems to say that the very fact of other people trying to help her and others beat cancer is something perfect and timeless.
Perfection and timelessness are qualities of divine life. Maggie senses that running to raise money for cancer fighting is a good that stands out from conditional goods, which last only for a time. It is a good beyond time because it is done for the good of the cancer patients, such that the runners will receive joy in the realization of good for those patients.
The joy of the runners is tied to good for the patients.
Seeing this, Maggie is filled with “an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude.” This plain ordinary event of running a race on a Saturday in Memphis hides within itself the presence and the activity of the kingdom of heaven. It is sacramental.