On Friday night, many members and friends of Versailles Presbyterian participated in the annual Relay for Life. This event, and others like it all over the country, is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and raises money for research. Between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. people took shifts walking around the outdoor track at our town’s recreation center.
It’s always a moving atmosphere. Sadness and worry mix with fun and joy. But more than anything else, it seems to me there is a pervading sense of gratitude.
The opening ceremony is a recognition of cancer survivors by name. These survivors then take one lap around the track to the cheers of everyone there. For the second lap, they are joined by caregivers—family and friends. The applause is generated from a place of deep gratitude for each new day. Another day of life. Another day with a loved one. We are reminded not to take that fact for granted.
At 10:00 p.m. there is another ceremony that is more somber. Luminarias have been place around the track, and each one bears the name of someone who has succumbed to cancer, or someone who has survived. As they are lighted, the mood is one of remembrance and reflection and, again, gratitude. A life remembered. A loved one missed. Yes, there is a strong recognition of loss. But the loss is punctuated by thankfulness for the difference each person made in the life of another.
There was a woman who made a scene over Jesus when he was eating lunch at the house of a friend named Simon. (Luke 7:36) She cried and her tears wet his feet. She dried his feet with her hair. She poured perfume on them.
Simon told Jesus this was inappropriate. He was probably right. There’s a time and a place for everything, you know. Jesus’ answer: Simon, you’ve not even showed me basic hospitality in your own home, but this woman’s gratitude has caused her to do what you think is inappropriate. She’s just grateful. Leave her alone.