Sunday, April 22, 2012

Charles Parker: A Tribute to Relay for Life


The first time I participated in a walk for charity was in 1975.  I was in high school and we raised money for an organization called K.O.P.E. – Klean Our Polluted Environment.  Dozens of teenagers walked on the shoulder of a busy four-lane highway without any supervision from parents or law enforcement.  Can you imagine?

The last two weekends I had the honor to participate – at least in a small way – in Relay-for-Life events.  These dedicated folks walk with a purpose – toward a goal – for the cause of raising money to fight cancer.

I teach World Religions and know that walking with a purpose – toward a goal – for a cause is a longtime spiritual thing.  Let’s take a brief look at the legacy.

Thousands of years ago, a man named Siddhartha left the confines of his palace and – for the first time in his life – saw old age, sickness and death.  Moved by this, he began to walk to figure things out.  He became enlightened.  He became Buddha.  He began a worldwide movement.  He walked with a purpose – toward a goal – for a cause.

 As well, a man named Moses led a group of former Jewish slaves on a walk through a sea and across a desert.  They walked for 40 years – sometimes complaining – but always striving for freedom in The Promised Land.  They walked with a purpose – toward a goal – for a cause.

Jesus sent his Christian disciples out on a walk.  He told them to go without a bag and without food.  He told them to spread the word that would turn the world upside-down.  They walked with a purpose – toward a goal – for a cause.

Around 700 years later, a man named Muhammad walked with followers from Mecca to Medina.  He believed that God had called him to unify the monotheistic world.  The people of Mecca didn’t like his call on them to aid the poor and oppressed.  They walked with a purpose – toward a goal – for a cause.

In late 1940s, a man named Gandhi walked across India.  He wanted people to know the plight of the subcontinent under British rule.  He spoke of non-violence and passive resistance.  He walked with a purpose – toward a goal – for a cause.

Relay-for-Life participants walk with a purpose – toward a goal – for a cause.  Why?  The answer is in the spiritual holy book of Hinduism The Bhagavad Gita.  “ For if I were to refrain from my tireless, continual action, mankind would follow my example and would not act.  If I stopped acting, these worlds would plunge into ruin: chaos would overpower all beings; mankind would be destroyed.”

They walk to cure cancer – they walk so others will follow – they walk so others may live.

May whatever God we worship bless them – as they walk.

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