It Tolls for Thee

Sorry that every post is about the marathon… that’s probably getting old for you, right? But I just keep processing things and I forgot to tell you about probably my favorite part of the race:

The marathon starts near the Metrodome in Downtown Minneapolis and cuts through the heart of a skyscraper district before turning down Hennepin towards the Chain of Lakes and South Minneapolis.  At the very edge of Downtown is a big, beautiful basilica.  The Basilica of Saint Mary, to be precise. 

As we head through downtown, the air is cold, the pack of runners nearly silent as the anticipation and silliness of the start wears off and we begin to truly consider the monumental task ahead of us. The only sound is the gentle tap tap tap tap tap of running shoes on pavement and the muffled sound of motivational playlists in runners’ ears.

Approaching the basilica, between Miles 1 and 2, the air fills with a beautiful noise– the church bells! The bells are ringing for the runners! The congregation– what must have been hundreds of people– are standing on the beautiful stone steps praying and waving out to the crowd of marathoners. 

I am not religious in the “capital R” sense, but that moment filled me with a certain faith, and a faith in what I think religion should be about– supporting our community, supporting all mankind in every earnest endeavor. Being hopeful for one another, friend and stranger alike. It was emotional then; it’s emotional now.

It also reminded me of a poem I once heard at an event to raise awareness about bullying and teen suicide last year.  The poem, For Whom The Bell Tolls (No Man is an Island) by John Donne, beautifully reminds me how connected we all are.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
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