As I write this entry there are 1,262,426 reported cases and 74,708 deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States. The fatality rate in the United States has risen to 5.9%, and the fatality rate in Michigan is the highest in the country at 9.4%. These numbers are sobering when compared with the 35,500,000 reported cases, 34,200 deaths, and 0.1% fatality rate related to influenza in the United States during the 2018/19 flu season. These statistics weigh heavier and heavier on me lately as the long term implications of COVID-19 set in.
I’m a runner, and one of the ways I’ve been releasing stress and disrupting the quarantine funk is to go for runs outside. It’s a beautiful time of year here in Oceana County and connecting with creation through running has been centering for me in these uncertain times.
It seems to me that we are all running a figurative race these days as we move through this COVID-19 world we’re living in. At first we had hoped it would only require a short sprint as we embraced physically distancing from one another in order to get back to how things were with little interruption. Then, it turned into a 5k. 3.1 miles was a bit beyond what we were comfortable with running, but we persevered and pressed on, maintaining physical distance and accepting the limitations placed on our public life. Just as the finish line of that 5k came into view, the race became a 10k. 6.2 miles was definitely not what we signed up for, and the stress and punishment of keeping that pace over this distance began to set in as schools, summer camps, and summer plans became cancelled. While we find ourselves huffing and puffing through this unexpected race, longing for the finish line, it’s becoming clearer that we are now being upgraded to a half-marathon. 13.1 miles is farther than we ever thought we could run. A few months ago the idea of running this kind of distance seemed ludicrous, yet here we are. We don’t feel prepared, and we just really want this running to be over. We’re tired of feeling exhausted and our faith in ourselves to see this through is nearly diminished. And if that wasn’t the worst of it, the reality seems clearer than ever before that we are running a marathon. 26.2 miles feels like an impossibility. 26.2 miles might as well be 500. We can’t even imagine what it’s going to take to see this through. In fact, it’s outright terrifying to think about.
What I know to be true is that the finish line of this race is far beyond our field of vision. We’re not even close. As a result, the answers about what the world will look like 3 months, 6 months, or a year from now are extremely out of focus. All the plans we are formulating and all the decisions being made feel tentative. As we begin to put the details together about our next cycle of hotel-based programs in January and March of 2021, and as we begin to imagine our 2021 summer season, we are doing so with the expectation that we must implement our work differently than we did before all of this.
This fall, we are planning to still engage our annual fundraiser called Run the Race. It seems more fitting now than ever. 24 runners will embark on a 36 hour, 200(ish) mile relay race put on by Reebok through an event called the Michigan Ragnar. While Reebok hasn’t cancelled the race yet, we have contingency plans if that occurs. Our runners will still run, either remotely or from a centralized location, and our goal of $48,000.00 will remain. Each of our runners has committed to raising $2,000.00 each to support the work of Living Water Ministries. Their willingness to challenge themselves, run long distances, and be sleep deprived is a testament to what can be accomplished when we work together. Consider supporting one of these individuals by learning more at www.elcalivingwater.com/runtherace/
As we all find ourselves running a very unexpected, figurative race these days, it’s important to remember that we are not running it alone. Even though we feel in over our head, we have each other. The struggle is shared. The burden is made lighter together. Most importantly, we must remember that in the most grueling moments of this run, when despair is at its peak, Jesus is running with us and that as a result we are able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Peace be with you,
Living Water Ministries