For anyone who knows me well, you know that the first Sunday in May is always spent doing Bloomsday. For those that don’t know Bloomsday is a 7.46 mile run in Spokane that has taken place in May since the 1970s. Though Bloomsday has turned into so much more than a road race/fun run. It is a community event that draws thousands of people not only to participate but to watch. It grew to the all-time high in the 1996 at just over 61,000 participants and has now settled back down to around 40,000 to 45,000 each year.
Well, that has been typically how I would spend that first Sunday in May until this year, when the pandemic upon us has changed everything. First the event was postponed until September then it was later changed to a virtual event. With the virtual event, participants are to complete the 7.46 miles during a 3-day time span then report the time.
With the changes that have taken place with Bloomsday this year, it has me reflecting on why I do it. This is my 40th year to participate in the event so I had a lot of experience to reflect upon. I first began as a young adult, I was participating in an exercise class and many of my classmates were going to run the race. I decided it would be fun to try and while I wasn’t very fast, I did run for most of the race. This continued for a few years until life started getting in the way and I didn’t have time to train so I decided to take my five-year-old niece and walk. This was a completely different experience and one I totally enjoyed. For the next several years I took my nieces with me, then my sons as well. One year I had one son in a stroller and one in a backpack. Once my boys had moved away, I continued to do it by myself. And for the last several years my oldest son has done Bloomsday as well but since he is much faster than me, we part at the starting line and meet up again at the end.
So, this is what I have done but the question is why. Why has this become part of my tradition and why have I kept on for 40 years. I think it is several things, one is the personal accomplishment. As I said, I am not particularly fast but I have always finished in a respectable time and feel good about participating. Even beyond the personal accomplishment it is about being part of a community event. It is about the fun and celebratory atmosphere that surrounds the event. This year it will not be quite the same without the community celebration.
It occurs to me that all those thousands of people who participate in Bloomsday are following a common path with the same goal in mind. The flow of people moving at their own pace but in many ways helping each other continue on the path. Over the years I have had people, strangers, tell me that they were following my pace and it help keep them moving. People are all on different parts of the path. At times there are people moving along the entire race course at the same time. We are all moving together along a path to the finish line and to win that prize of a coveted t-shirt for the finishers
Our faith community is like this, we are all on a common path with the same goal in mind, being in service and the mission of Christ. We are at different places on this path going at our own pace. At times we may need to look to someone else to keep us going and at times we may be the one that keeps others going. The one difference I would say in this analogy is that on our faith journey we do not reach the end and then are done. The journey doesn’t end at a finish line and we part ways. We may reach certain goals and accomplish tasks along the way but we continue along this journey together.
During this year, when everything has changed so much, let’s remember that we are in this together, traveling on the same faith journey all at our own pace yet with the same goal of loving and serving God and sharing His good news with others.
Although things are so different, we keep on because of that dedication that we have to each other and to God. Just like I will be out doing the virtual Bloomsday without the community because I am dedicated to my tradition and I want to get the t-shirt!