Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Five Miles for Ferguson

As the entire world knows, my beloved hometown is wrought with tension, anger, and unrest today.  I understand the anguish over a lost human life.  I understand the desire for justice.  I understand the frustration with inequality.  But I don't understand violence, hatred, and vandalism.  Peaceful protests take a stand and push for change; violence simply creates more violence.

With all of these thoughts weighing heavily on my heart, I woke up this morning and prepared for a solo run.  I scanned news headlines and #ferguson on Twitter to learn that cooler heads had not prevailed during the (too few) hours that my head was on the pillow.  I laced up and headed towards the door with apprehension and unease.  What would I hear when I opened it?  Would I see smoke on the horizon?  My neighborhood is 15 miles from the Ferguson rioters and 5 from the Shaw demonstrations.  Rationally, I knew there was no chaos in my immediate vicinity, but I couldn't help feeling queasy as I set out.

I traced a familiar route, and the emotions I'd been quashing came bubbling up to the surface:  Anger over the senseless violence.  Heartbreak for the businesses and residents of Ferguson.  Disappointment that our city couldn't maintain peaceful protests while in the international spotlight.  Uncertainty about how I would explain to my children why their school is closed today.  Guilt that I could spend an hour running alone through a beautiful neighborhood while just a few miles away families don't have that luxury.  Further guilt that I can tell my children that this is a grown-up problem and they are safe while my counterparts in Ferguson cannot do the same; for too many children, the violence and hatred is an unavoidable reality.  Overwhelming grief and sadness that no one wins in this situation.  We all lose.

At the end of my run, I desperately wanted to witness a beautiful sunrise,
as a promise that darkness does not last forever, that hope springs from defeat.
 Instead, I found this cloudy sky whose gloom matched that of my heart.
I pounded through the miles, letting my thoughts wander and tears flow.  I forced myself to use the time to process so I could answer my kids' questions and survive this emotionally exhausting day.  At the end of the run, I had not resolved any of my questions nor had I reconciled my thoughts and feelings.  But I was five miles stronger, five miles more balanced, five miles closer to accepting that I will never understand the complexity of humankind.  It's not much, but it's a start.

This shirt was a must today: because I decompressed on the run,
I can handle (almost) whatever this day throws at me.

We - the collective we - have many more miles to log before we can settle the unrest and heal the hurt.  I pray that we can find peace in our city and muster energy to rebuild the massive destruction of our hearts, businesses, and communities.  If you're the praying sort, please pray for peace in St. Louis and throughout our nation.  If not, carry Ferguson in your heart; offer your miles for those who cannot safely log their own today.