In this post I discuss my recent Darkness Into Light experience, a walk in aid of Pieta House.
Even as I signed up for the event, I hadn’t anticipated the sheer volume of people who would arrive on a chilly May morning. And for a cause that few could dispute.
The roads were a ghost town at first . On the way up, traffic built behind – it was clear as day (well, night) where they were all heading.
I pulled up on the grass of Malahide Castle and Gardens at 4 am, with the walk due to start shortly. Torch in hand, I made my way over alongside the rest of the participants, of which there were all ages. I got in among them, and chatted to a few. Of those I spoke to, they had all known someone who had taken their own life.
There was a ”banner of hope” full of names, I signed my own. I pondered whether these were names of those lost to suicide, or those walking in their memory. Either way, it was a nice touch.
There also was a nice message of ‘HOPE’ laid out in lights. Seeing it up close in person was a feast for the eyes.
The atmosphere was building as more and more arrived. Music blasted throughout the venue with a DJ on site. Everyone was buzzing off each other, eager to get started. You could sense the excitement from the occasion. Stemming from something so horrific beyond words, this event was anything but sombre. This was hope personified.
I took my place in line, whilst the crowd got warmed up with exercise drills, and danced to tunes like YMCA. Some of the organizers gave some speeches on what the event means. And then we were ready to go, bang on 20 past 4.
The runners were let go first, I opted to walk. More people were still arriving as it started.I looked back for a moment, amazed at the turnout Over 5,000 in a sea of yellow shirts, but only for a moment. In the spirit of the event, it was time to look forward. Normally i’d be a bit anxious and claustrophobic of the crowds, but not tonight.
”Hope began here”. Off we went. The mood sustained itself throughout the walk, everyone still delighted to be there. Upbeat and determined. Exactly what you’d want on an event like this. I was struck by the subtle, yet appropriate lighting throughout the venue, particularly the route itself.
Helpers were scattered all over the route and egged us on with messages of encouragement. I kept a steady pace. Not too fast, or too slow. Enough to soak it all in.
The walk took exactly an hour and 2 minutes to complete, in what felt like no time at all. I felt a sense of achievement hearing the music blaring in the distance in the final quarter. I joined the others taking pictures of the finish line just before I passed it. Lyons tea bags and cereal bars greeted us as we finished up.
I headed home with a longing to do it all again. I’ll be there next year definitely. The venue was beautiful, the event itself well organised. Say what you want about charities, but Pieta House did the world of good when they founded Darkness Into Light.
The solidarity of so many, touched by the one issue we have only recently started to form a proper conversation on, is what stays with me.