When I got on Facebook this morning I remembered that today 10,000 people will be running through the streets of the country’s most dangerous city, Flint, MI. The Crim Festival of Races is a local tradition and draws some of the world’s best runners. But there is one runner I can’t help but think of, my friend Greg. He ran numerous races himself and harassed countless others to join in. Greg had an infectious smile and the spiritual gift of criticism. He was frugal (he’d say cheap) yet generous, a participant and a cheerleader, and one who worked hard and played harder.
Greg was the first new friend I made when I moved to Flushing in 1997. We fathered together, camped together, coached little league together, played basketball, even ran some together. I remember conversations we had on his back patio one summer when his union was on strike. I remember the rainy night he came to the end of himself. I remember performing his second marriage to his first wife. I remember many occasions when he was a better friend to me than I was to him.
Many of the people who pound the pavement and who will finish victoriously on the bricks of Saginaw St, are Greg’s friends. His absence is felt but he has finished the race. Yet while we miss him we cling to what the writer of Hebrews says, “A huge cloud of witnesses is all around us. So let us throw off everything that stands in our way. Let us throw off any sin that holds on to us so tightly. Let us keep on running the race marked out for us.” Greg has joined the ranks of the faithful. He has taken his place in the heavenly grandstand, smiling broadly he is cheering us on to the finish.
I, and many others, anticipate a glorious reunion.