Malice (and not), April, the Race

President Abraham Lincoln uttered quite a few memorable sentences. My favorite is from his second inaugural address: “With malice toward none, with charity for all…let us strive on.” With malice toward none.

A couple old friends of mine crossed the finish line yesterday. I myself crossed it on Patriot Day, 1995.

Anybody else? Been there at Copley Square? Or anywhere along the route? Or at any other marathon or organized footrace?

running feetWhat I am getting at is: If there is any situation here on this beleaguered earth; any human atmosphere where we could honestly say, “the people here are gathered with malice toward none,” this would be it.

You go to a marathon, to run or to watch; you root for everyone and against no one.

In 2004, I ran 26.2 miles through every borough of New York City wearing a t-shirt that read, “100% Pro-Life.” Dozens, if not hundreds, of dyed-in-the-wool Gloria-Steinem-style Manhattan Democrats cheered for me, even though they did not know me, yelling “100% PRO-LIFE!!!”

My point is: As anyone who has ever been at a marathon knows, it is one of those truly rare human occasions where everyone is for everyone and against no one. It’s emotional; it’s genuinely wonderful; it’s one of the most fun things in the world. It is beautiful.

Hence, the bitterness of the tears.

May the Lord comfort. As the Cardinal of Boston put it: Let’s turn to the light of Christ. Because we need it. Life in this world hurts.

I ran the Boston marathon with four fellow Jesuit Volunteers. As we ran up ‘Heartbreak Hill,’ with the easy spring sun shining on us, we had one of our ‘pain check-ins:’

“Ok. Right now: My left knee. My right heel. And my entire back.”

“Check. For me, it’s a blister on the ball of my left foot, and the sweat is burning my eyeballs.”

“Check. I can’t breathe, and I’m really thirsty.”

The fourth just shook it off. Couldn’t talk for the pain.

t-s-eliotWe need Christ. Spring springs in April. Buds blossom. It’s great to be alive.

But, as T.S. Eliot put it, “April is the cruelest month.”

VA Tech shooting—April. Columbine—April. Oklahoma City—April. Statistics show that, of all months, April tends to turn depressed souls to violence. Usually it’s violence against themselves. More suicides in April than in any other month.

May God rest the souls of the dead. May He heal the wounded and comfort the grieving.

I’m not much for psychoanalyzing people. But maybe one reason why April’s sweet air and long sun, it’s soft, breezy comfort—one reason why this provokes souls darkened by despair is: This month bears so much resemblance to the peace of Eden. Yet we do not have that peace.

The most ancient teaching holds that God created the heavens and the earth on March 25. This means that the coming of April coincided with the first sabbath day.

Also, as we celebrate annually, the Lord gave us the mysteries of eternal life at this time of year, by the Resurrection and Ascension of the Passover Lamb of God.

In other words, April does indeed have a special whiff of eternity to it. Which makes the fact all the more painful: this is still the same fallen world. Same fallen world, full of sin, twelve full months per year.

Let’s turn to Christ. He endured the mystery of evil on a beautiful spring day. He endured it so that we might be redeemed, so that He could raise us on the last day. On the Day of the Lord, springtime will arrive, and it will never end.

May He comfort our troubled hearts now, and give us hope, so that we can run the race.

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