I sit here devastated – i was about to start writing a blog about my recent races when i heard the news that a young man i knew professionally, a really bright, genuine and kind man, had passed away tragically. Last year he dug me out of a huge hole and to think that all he had professionally, i didn’t know him privately, career, reputation, respect and prospects were not enough to keep him safe; that there was still this huge bleak, black hole in his life which eventually sucked him in is so sad and so devastating. My prayers are with him and his family and with all the suffering in this world.
One of the runs i participated in recently was the Darkness into Light 5k at Marlay Park in Dublin. The beauty of it is that it starts about 4.30am in the dark and, as you approach the finish line, the dawn breaks and the light spreads over the world.
This evening i filled in a questionnaire Pieta House had emailed me as part of their market research. The principal focus of the Darkness into Light walk and run is fundraising for Pieta House which is a self-harm or suicide crisis centre and a very successful fundraiser it is. As with all things wonderful, especially in Ireland, volunteers play a significant role – the wheels of compassion in the world are truly borne on the shoulders of volunteers.
Most of the topics in the questionnaire were normal market research and, as is usual with such surveys, there was a comment section at the end. I have run the Darkness into Light at Marlay Park twice, this year and last, and my daughters’ school organises them to participate and brings them back to the school for breakfast and a movie afterwards – awesome school. I also walked it a few years ago with my daughers, much younger then, and our Westie, Jessie – i was so proud of the girls that day getting out of bed so early and off to the Phoenix Park.
One of the things which is most obvious when you participate in this wonderful event is that a huge number of people are there because of such sorrows and tragedies in their own lives, either personally or of a family member or friend. It gives an opportunity for such impacted people to do something special in memory or in thanksgiving or in trying to obtain understanding. The other wonderful thing that you can see that occurs at the Darkness into Light events is that wider communities, extended family, friends, neighbours and colleagues also avail of the opportunity to show their solidarity, their love and concern, to those affected and to the families of those affected.
Even if Darkness into Light did not raise any funds, these dual opportunities that the events offer are worth their weight in gold. The organisers have struck a deep chord of compassion running through the Irish people, and further afield, in these events.
I hope that as long as such tragedies occur in our families and communities, events such as the Darkness into Light and organisations such as Pieta House will exist to bring help and assistance and to allow those affected to experience the support and solidarity that society offers them. The fact that all the participants have to get out of their warm beds at 3.00am to go and walk or run on a cold or wet, or both morning, in the dark is a fitting testament to the compassion society is capable of feeling.
As i ran gently around Marlay Park and just as the first light fingers of dawn began to appear, i heard another runner say to her partner, “Listen, listen, the birds are waking up and starting to sing”, and i listened too and felt blessed.