First the expansive larger than life ocean captivated me, in that lure that pulls one in to a mesmerizing beach. Then the tribe around this single winged soul beckoned with their race from and towards the waves. They this feathered friend’s messenger willing me to pause, to watch, to stay. This dancer in the water strong, independent, wise, and a survivor of a story I will not know. His wings outstretch as if an Eagle, yet a name he will never be able to hold. A dip and dive, a shake for water to roll down his back. A look around, repeat once or twice, then oh, his wings stretch to expand. In that sunshine and in that vast space, he stands certain of one thing. He is majestic, he is courageous, he is extraordinary.
Fast forward to the second running race, a few hundred runners each at their own pace. Running in pairs, fours, individually. Running in honor of, memory of, in celebration of bravery. Some wore sashes to display their personal journey. The pink ribbon proudly displaying survivor for all to see. Their stories not verbally shared, but certainly visible to “read”. They have known the depths of fear and they have known immense courage.
A friend wisely said the following words, both of us understanding the definition of extraordinary bravery. For some being able to get up again to another day is courage, the truth of her words still whispering. How many of these individuals in this half marathon weren’t sure they would see this day of this race?
How many people do we pass on a sidewalk who weren’t sure they would see the current day?
Somewhere between mile eight and nine she paused momentarily. She had just videoed her self “doing this” and now she needed more water to drink. The only words I felt I could say was it is an honor to be in this race with you today. After her thank you, she handed me a paragraph from a page. Her first half marathon with feet that were going numb from side effects of her chemotherapy. With a beautiful smile, an equally radiant will, and by herself she was determined to reach mile thirteen.
Together we walked while she continued to make this day about the gifts I would receive. Mother Nature’s daughter like me, she bent to move each wooly caterpillar out of the path of human feet. We talked of how much Nature speaks, of deer, owls, blue jays, bats, and the pillar strength of trees. We talked of peace that comes when one steps into a woods before the feet begin their urging. And how running becomes the bricks that build peace into soul-centering.
We didn’t talk of the days that she wasn’t sure she would be walking with me. We didn’t talk of the moments the only thread she had to hold onto was her bravery. We briefly touched on part of who her tribe was, and how they didn’t relish running. I thought of my winged dancer in the ocean two days before, strong, independent, and majestically stretching his wings. His “like” tribe not beside him, yet, he was not alone. He had what mattered most within him – his courageous and extraordinary soul.
I, who hold a special bond with owls walked beside a survivor who talked of her encounter with an owl on her running journey. Once again, reverent silence the leader, I softly broke its sacredness to say you were given the power of its wisdom” to guide her way. I can still hear her voice filled with that affirming tone of wisdom as she replied, that’s for sure that life and this journey teach a lot about being wise.
In the sunshine of this race day, and in the vast space of what we call life, she walks certain of one thing. She is a brave and majestic eagle, wise, with her outstretched wings. Soar high dear survivor that graced my path, soar in all your extraordinary beauty. Truly my honor to visibly see your story. A beautiful, brave, and inspirational story indeed!