They play the scene over and over again. From the finish line, the camera scans the incoming runners, the crowd. And in the midst of the cheering audience, three yellow balloons celebrate the end of the celebrated race. Whether they are held by the hand of an adult or by a child, I cannot tell. But in my mind, they are always clutched in the hand of a child. A child present for the very first time, perhaps, dreaming of one day being one of those runners. Perhaps they are clutched in the hand of a child, eagerly scanning the racers for the face of her mother, her father, her brother… someone she loves. Someone whose name she is calling.
Then comes the blast. It’s behind the crowd and it rips through the joyful onlookers. The flags of the nations, waving in triumph for the world’s representatives in running shoes, bend but do not break in the path of the violent force that shakes us all. A runner falls. Is he hurt? Hit by shrapnel? Or did his heart break when he saw the smoke rise above the dead and dying and wounded?
For a moment, those balloons seem determined to be held to this earthly terrain, but then they pull free and float away, rising to the heavens.
Let my prayers rise with them.