On Sunday I participated in something beautiful. So many moving things happen on Sundays, don’t they? So many touching moments fill my Sunday memories. But this one was a little different.
This one wasn’t at The Block where we gather to worship our faithful God. This one took place on a trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Peninsula, Ohio. I was there at 4:30 a.m., peering through the dense fog and blackest night. Not even the moon was shining. It was cold and I was still bleary-eyed. And, I wasn’t standing next to my preacher-man (where you’ll usually find me on Sunday mornings). I was with my dear friend, Shannon.
We were there to send-off my sister, her husband and his brother. I’m not sure what ever made them think that running for 52 miles would be a grand adventure, but that’s what they were attempting on this cold October Sunday. We had to be there this early because it would likely take them more than 12 hours to complete their task. Yes, 12.
Can you even imagine? Maybe you’re an avid runner but I am NOT. Running for an entire day is not even on my radar of possibilities. But, Crystal is a competitor and she loves to push herself so… here we were. Waiting to begin the run of a lifetime.
But, this post isn’t really about the run itself. (Though, that is surely worth a post!)
This post is about the power of being there. Just showing up. For the people you love.
And, yet, when it was finished and we were all done crying, she thanked me. SHE thanked ME. Why? Because I showed up. That’s it. I just showed up. I didn’t even say anything amazing to encourage her. I mean, how lame is “good luck” when a person has trained for months? Really, there was nothing powerful about my words. The thing that had traction was my presence. That I would drag my sorry butt out of bed at three-o-clock in the morning and be there. When she needed a familiar face.
Our eyes locked in knowing before she left for the starting line, little tears spilling into the corners. And, that was it. She was off. To run 52 miles. But, in that moment, I could tell that it mattered. The showing up had mattered.
The crazy thing is that Shannon and I weren’t the only one who showed up. Three other friends came to the start. And, even more people were there coming and going all day. One friend Jillian even bundled up her infant son and came to most of the check points. Friends, family, friends-of-friends. People just showing up to see them for a few minutes as they passed. We’d shout encouraging things or let them know we were praying for them or walk with them for a minute as they got water but they didn’t really NEED anything from us. It was just that we were there… as they finished a grueling loop or topped a killer hill.
It was a beautiful thing to witness. It really was.
And, isn’t that same thing true in life? Sometimes the power of just being there is the critical thing. The fact that you didn’t leave when the going got tough in your marriage. Or that you came home for dinner when you could have worked another hour. Or that you sat down to listen to your daughter’s favorite song even though you really don’t like hip-hop music. Or that you sat there in the rain while he played his football game.
We think we need to buy something or say something profound. But, usually we just need to show up.
There’s something powerful about that. We Americans are pretty independent folks. But don’t be fooled. We still need each other. More than we often know.
And when we show up, we discover an unusual beauty.