A strong defense at the Boston Marathon

Running is probably the most accessible sport worldwide. From a carefree jog in the park to the peak of athletic competition, people from every continent on the globe dedicate themselves to this activity. At the far end of the competition side of the spectrum is one of the world’s best known road-racing events, the Boston Marathon. It is the second largest single-day sporting event in the United States, just behind the Super Bowl, and over 90 countries will be represented at this year’s competition. The Boston Marathon is also the world’s oldest annual marathon—this year will be the 118th race. Year after year, this event is an international stage for breaking records and redefining the boundaries of physical endurance.

Recognizing the scale of the Boston Marathon started me thinking about what it represents to our world in terms of spiritual growth. Looking back over the course records one can see that race times have been getting consistently faster over the decades, with no sign of a plateau in sight. What impels this advancement? One could see it simply as the human will to push yourself to go faster than the person next to you. But in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy points to a spiritual cause: “Progress takes off human shackles. The finite must yield to the infinite. Advancing to a higher plane of action, thought rises from the material sense to the spiritual …” (p. 256). Consistent progress indicates something beyond human will—it points to a spiritual animus leading humanity out of material limits. The source of this progress is God, whom the Bible refers to as “Spirit” (see John 4:24).

As a Boston resident, I regularly have the privilege of running down Boylston Street, the homestretch of this marathon, and along the banks of the Charles River, where thousands of competitors from all over the world do their warm-up miles in April before the start of the race. The area is beautiful in the spring, with trees full of white and pink flowers, green grass, and sailboats cutting through the water. My love for running in Boston was one reason the display of terrorism at last year’s Marathon shook me—it was a shock to consider that such an ugly, senseless act could happen so close to home. I was grateful for the quick response from safety officials and for the care shown to everyone who was affected by the tragedy. But for some time after the event, I felt a twinge of fear whenever the Marathon would come to mind. Questions and uncertainties played through my head: Could something similar happen again next year? Will spectator support of the Marathon diminish because nobody wants to relive the memories? I found that when fear about the bombing dominated my consciousness, I totally lost sight of the spiritual impetus behind the Marathon. The first picture, of the activity of spiritual progress, and the second, of fear and suffering, were opposed to each other—so I couldn’t have a tuned-in picture of both at the same time.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

Spiritual Lens
"The floral apostles..."
April 21, 2014

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.