In the past few days I have been part of two crowds that have been really meaningful to me.
On Saturday I gathered with 13,000 people in downtown Columbus for the Cap City Marathon. Some people were running a half marathon - (13.1 miles), some - like me - were running or walking a quarter marathon - (6.55 miles) - and others were doing a "Commit to be Fit" 5k. Some were very fit and fast; others (like me!) were not so fit but determined. It was all very inspiring - and a lot of it because there was such a crowd. There were even more people as we found crowds welcoming us when we walked or ran through the middle of the city and at the finish lines. Some of that crowd was cheering people with signs, or clappping or calling us by name. It really was wonderful and I was surprised that I walked as fast as I did without stopping. And being in the crowd was a big part of that for me. It was also fun to be part of the crowd that gathered afterward - receiving free fruit, water, chocolate, bagels and even champagne. Most of all there was that shared sense of satisfaction that we had done something good for ourselves that morning.
Last night I was with a different kind of crowd at the Fairgrounds. I was part of the Nehemiah Action meeting of the BREAD organization. Bread is a social justice group that includes over 50 churches, synagogues and even a mosque. We work together to help make a difference in the lives of people in our community. At this annual meeting, we are inviting community leaders to come and make a commitment to an action that we believe will change some systemic problems. Last night our major issue was job creation in Columbus Our research team learned thqat in comparison with 16 other similar cities, Columbus ranked dead last in small business development. They also found that 2/3rds of new jobs come from small businesses. So, 4 members of city council came and pledged to work together to plan and fund "incumbators" which would help to fund small business entrepreneurs and also to give them expertise. It was gratifying to see that something really does seem to be happening. We also heard reports from other issues from the past - about how our organization has worked with community leaders in combatting truancy, neighborhood blight and health care problems. By the time we left I also felt that same sense of satisfaction that by being there - we had done something good for others. And so, it is clear we are not always called to lead but just to do our part as part of the crowd. Being together, working together can really make a difference. Amen!