On this day, fifty years ago, Katherine Switzer began the #BostonMarathon. The problem was, women were not allowed to participate. Two miles into the contest, the race director, Jack Semple, fully angered at the realization that a woman had somehow slipped in attempted to physically force her out. Tom Miller, her boyfriend at the time, fought Semple off and Switzer went on the complete the marathon. On Monday, at the age of 70, she again ran the Boston Marathon, this time comprising 45% women.
I am a runner, though I will never run a marathon. Still, it is women like Katherine Switzer who, in the year I was born, had courage to do what she was capable of doing despite the arbitrary social conventions that would prevent her. She helped to forge a path for those of us who were born that year, and enable and encourage us to widen that path in the years to follow.
A feature that is important not to miss is that Tom Miller also had courage to run with Switzer. Many women are alone in the quest to be wholly present to the world in her gifts and abilities. Switzer was not alone. Thankfully, I have a partner in crime who likes to buck convention when convention crushes the spirit in himself or another human being. Howie is my chief cheerleader who had always seen me for who I am, supporting my efforts to live the Life in me fully.
In my nearly (still 37 days to go!) 50 years of life I have seen progress and contributed to the work to make things right for both women and men. My ordination journey is one of those areas, but that is a story for another day. Still, there is a great amount of work yet to be done. So as I pass a mantle to my children—my two girls and two boys—they understand their unique expression of God’s character at the core and are standing with others in their own way to promote the manifestation of that beauty. And I know that they will be faithful to the effort to make things right in the world.
And I know my children are not alone. We endure with grace, stand with grace, and walk at the pace of grace—with others – who see me as. I. am. – see you as. you. are. And isn’t that exactly what Jesus made right at the cross?