“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son Jesus.”
Pope St. John Paul II
One of the things that Tricia and I miss about our old neighborhood was how many people we would run into from our childhood - high school friends, cousins, former teachers. Inevitably, we would run into them at the supermarket, the gym, in the neighborhood on a weekly basis. When our oldest started preschool eight years ago, her class even included the daughter of one of Tricia’s cousins, Meghan Walker. A few weeks ago, we learned that the Meghan and Matt Walker’s oldest daughter, Lily, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We immediately added her to our daily prayers. We haven’t seen them for a few years, until this weekend. Fourteen year old Lily loves to run track and cross country. So her father Matt decided that the best thing he could do for his daughter would be to run for her. And he asked others to join him. The invitation was to make sure that for 24 hours straight, someone would be running for Lily. When the invite went out, it looked as if Matt’s name was in every slot through the night. He would take whatever shifts weren’t going to get covered. He didn’t need to worry. 700 people signed up, taking 30 minutes slots to run through the night and day for the course of 1 day. Every half hour a new crew would kick off on the 3 mile loop to show their love and to cheer Lily on as she fights her cancer. It began with her father, running through the middle of the night for his daughter.
As I pushed the jogging stroller with my two youngest in it, alongside my eight year old daughter who was desperate to finish 3 miles for Lily, I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful witness Matt Walker gave as to how God the Father loves us. A quiet father who runs through night for his child. A determined father who will run the shifts no one else can or will take – who will pick us up when we are tired. A generous father who brings others along to run with him to help us remember what’s most important. A father who teaches others what love is. I have no doubt, God the Father is running with the Walkers and their Lily. If you want to join them, they are asking for prayers through the intercession of Fr. Bill Atkinson, a Servant of God from here in Philadelphia. God is running through the night for us. Who are you running for this week?
Prayer for the Cause of Sainthood: Fr. Bill Atkinson, OSA
Blessed are you,
Father of life, source of goodness and peace,
In whom all creation has its origin
And by whom every person is loved.
In Father Bill Atkinson
Your mercy and compassion
Were made manifest
As he brought solace to the suffering
And hope to the needy
By carrying the cross of life faithfully
He proclaimed confidence in your love
And conformity to your will,
And so drew others to you
And to the generous gift to your grace.
Hear our prayers
Which we offer through his intercession
So that as your work continues to unfold
Among us it may bring honor to you,
Comfort to your people,
And, according to your will,
Glory to your servant.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.