Relay for Life
On Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3, 2009 St. Mark OrthodoxChurch joined the “Relay for Life” organized by the American Cancer Society event in support of the battle against a disease that takes so many lives.
With prayer, members of St. Mark Church Relay Team, including cancer survivors and caregivers, started the 18-hour all night vigil, celebrating the lives of those who battled with cancer and remembering those who passed on, perhaps lost the battle, but in our Orthodox belief in the Resurrection, winning the war.
By being a part of the event, we joined hundreds of other people of all ages in our community to help raise awareness and defeat cancer by raising funds for ACS' lifesaving mission. During the event we were able to raise about $650 for ACS.
The most emotionally vivid event was the "Luminaria Ceremony" in honor of survivors and in memory of those who died. In the silence and darkness of the night, with a mixture of joy, sadness, and hopefulness in our hearts we joined the procession around the hundreds and hundreds of candles lit... standing like rows of angels in their white paper bags, reading each name, both those we knew, and those strangers who became more familiar with every lap.
For those of us who just recently walked in our nocturnal Paschal Procession, repeating the ritual year after year, for burial and for Resurrection, candles lit, silent and contemplative or singing with joy, there was a similar feeling, increased only by the image of the icon of St. Nektarios behind our own flickering beeswax tapers.
He was looking over and reflecting back on each and every passerby.
THAT was AWESOME! He was there with us, blessing those who knew and for those who didn't; there was opportunity later to share the wonderful cards Fr. John had prepared for those who inquired.
There were also those moments of music and noise of fun as well, less serious and one can definitely add comical in nature, that included walking contests like the bubble blowing event (good thing little Dimitry came prepared with a jar of bubbles!), the dude dressed like a lady (we think they should be paired off with the lady dressed as a dude!), walking in sunglasses, crazy hats, PJs, crazy hair, flags of the country represented, and more entertaining ideas!
Of course there was food and fun for kids from the youngest to the oldest. As we walked, we kept stringing a bead for every lap...Our "kids" who counted, ended up with a stringed proof of participation. AHHH, it's the AFTERMATH of finding our feet, our backs, our time-of-day that added to the memories!
From our "team captain" ( who heard a parkfull of " Happy Birthday Father Joooohhn..." ) & Christopher, Maria & Dan, Diane, Vera & Vlad, Cleo, Marilyn & Stavros, Jerome, Sunnie & Donnie, Angelique & Chloe, Dan & Dimitry to an unexpected visitor from the past--Dale, + Nadya, there was some good spirit at Bray Park to cherish by our TEAM. Thank you to all who contributed to this event on the field or in your support and donations.
This event was of a great emotional and spiritual value for everyone who participated in it. We hope we will join the ACS annual “Relay for Life” next year.
Have YOU been tagged by cancer? Would you like us to remember those you know and love who have been?
Will you please join us?!
by Nadya Golubov,