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Boston - Helen - The Dreams and the Reality
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By Gil Clelland - Sanctuary London

The bombing at the Boston marathon rocked the world in many ways but it struck the running community in perhaps a unique way. Every other marathon that a runner enters is an opportunity to qualify for Boston. That's right. We do not just sign up for Boston, or win a lottery placement (like New York marathon). Marathon runners have to qualify for Boston. For a person my age, the time to qualify is three hours and fifteen minutes. After training for half a year, I can run those twenty-six miles in over four hours and fifteen minutes. To trim that extra hour off my time will take a great amount of training. Some marathon runners train for years to qualify for Boston.

So, when a violent act ripped that dream out of the hands of not only those running, competing, and watching the race, something changed. Some were affected directly by the bombs - lost their life or were severely wounded. And some runners were not allowed to finished the race. In the next few years, we will find out a little about the human spirit. Will these runners try again? Will they get up? Or with their dreams dashed, will some give up? I hope for the best...but understand a little about how hard it is to get up.

I sat with Helen at a coffee shop downtown. "Thanks for meeting with me Gil, I don't come downtown much anymore."

I've known Helen for six years. She has changed along the way. Six years ago, she was new to the streets of London and brash. She got in the face of others and let them know her pain. She was aggressive. She was harsh. And she hurt deeply inside. If you got past all the rough exteriors, you found a young lady looking for something, someone...love. This past week, she shared a little more from her childhood. She was removed from the home the age of five. Mom had an addiction and she never knew her father. In the next twelve years, she was in twelve foster homes. I started to do the math and figured that was a different foster home a year when she shared, "Two of those places lasted three years..."

The math got worse for Helen. After her tumultuous teen years, she hit the streets. Angry, with something to prove, she got in everyone's face. She hit the drugs for a few years and is just getting sober now. "He changed everything," Helen confessed as she showed me a photo of her son Benjamin. "And his dad is so amazing, loving...we want a better life for him. So, we moved out of downtown and are doing our best."

These young parents are both clean now. They are working towards an education. And trying to give their child the opportunities they missed out on. They got up after the blast. They started to run again. Helen gives me hope.

The human spirit is a beautiful thing. Right after the blast in Boston, many people ran back into the area of the bomb - just to help. That's a gift given to us from God. He loves us and wants to be with us in the middle of our pain and often hopeless situations. But I know so many who stay down after the pain strikes them. It's just too hard to get back up. The pain has struck too deep and too long.

Will we, the people of God, go into the places of pain with our friends who cannot get up? Will we continue to encourage and love those forgot how to love themselves? They are not just downtown. They live right next to you, often in the same house, the same church, the same school...our neighbours. Us. And Jesus commanded, "Love your neighbours as yourself."