Day Eight, Saturday September 12: Fredericksburg to Millersburg, 10 miles

The joy of running in community – we not me

At our Keim company meeting in March, I said that in my opinion, the breakdown of community is at the core of many of our societal problems today. So many of our problems go back to the fact that many people do not have a community to draw on in good times and bad. I have had the good fortune to live in Lancaster County and now Holmes County – both are strong models of community. My Amish sisters and brothers have so much to teach us about community. I am so grateful for their role modeling

The group that walked the last 10 miles with me on Saturday from Fredericksburg to Millersburg.
Front row from left – Karen Keim, Robbie Keim, Kathy Smucker, Jerry Smucker. Second row – Karen King, Barbara Mitchell, Anna Smucker, Jim Smucker. Back row – Kevin King, Jerry Mitchell, Conrad Yoder, Darin Bontrager

I was part of the organizing group that developed the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon back in 2009.  As a group, we had been running together for a few years each month under the full moon. We would have as many as 50 people show up to run together. These runs were a special time of community. Old and young running together for 10 miles of fellowship. It was here we coined the phrase “they joy of running in community.” 

Community is so much a part of my running. I would much rather run with others than alone. For this run Jerry, Kathy, Anna, Jeff, Terry, David, Conrad, Barb, Jerry, Robbie, Karen, Kevin, Karen, Darin, Jordon, Krista, Rachel, Kate, and Lincoln were my community. It would not have happened without them. Jerry and Kathy were amazing spending the entire week with me working to serve my every need. My eggs were always ready at 6:00 AM and lunch was waiting for me on the trail. It was humbling being served in this way. 

I have such high regard for Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) and Disaster Aid Ohio. They are both true community-building organizations. My Mom and Dad spent years working with MDS and on several occasions took all of their children and grandchildren along to build a house. I was one of the least helpful with a hammer so this week was a way for me to extend Mom and Dad’s legacy with MDS without my having to recut 2×4’s that I didn’t saw according to proper measurements. 

In a few weeks we should know who the family is that will be the recipient of funds raised on this adventure for a new house. At Keim we will continue to raise funds from our community until we reach the $80,000 mark, the cost of a new house (as I write we have about $17,000 to go to the $80,000 needed). Thanks to all who have contributed. We will most likely be building the house at Keim in our front parking lot starting next April. 

What lessons have I learned from a week of running in community – here are a few. First of all, is it possible that how we are going is more important than where?  In other words, is being in community more important than where or what we are doing (this reminds me of the quote I have at my desk that reverses an old adage, “don’t just do something, stand there)? I mentioned on Thursday that I never had any negative thoughts or doubts during this run. Certainly, that was because of the community that surrounded me for this time. In the long run, was the act of doing this in community, and the relationships formed and lessons learned along the way, just as important as getting to the Ohio river? 

Secondly, we are consoled and strengthened by being in community. Some folks can do these types of long runs “unassisted.” Unassisted is actually a category in what has become known as “Fastest Known Time” (FKT’s). I would have no interest in doing unassisted runs. Having a number of people at my side during this run was a source of strength for me that carried me further than where I could have gone on my own.

Finally, as long as we are together, we can persevere and achieve things we never could have imagined, were we alone. As individuals, we are strengthened by being in community. To our own detriment, we have become much more individualistic as a society – even in our Anabaptist communities. This is not a product of a well-examined faith but of our enculturation into the consumeristic realities of our society. I am guilty of this as well. May we all receive the gift of self-reflection in this regard and work to reverse this trend. Otherwise, as a community, we sell our kingdom-building abilities short in a world that desperately needs some of what we have. 

There is an African proverb that is a favorite quote of mine – “Along I have seen many marvelous things, none of which are true.” May my week of running in community expand my ability to see what previously was not available to me. 

Perhaps the highlight of the week, scooping ice cream for my grandson Lincoln. 

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