On the pathfinder where I run in Bartlesville, Ok, there is a bridge that goes over the Caney River. It is beautiful. Some days I just run out and back to the fallen mossy tree and some days I run all the way across both the wooden bridge and the green bridge all the way to Silver Lake Road.
The wooden bridge is made of railroad ties and each plank has a name engraved on it. In 2012 a figure in our community was concerned about the bridge getting too worn and felt it needed to be refurbished. He took it upon himself to run a campaign to redo the bridge. He gathered support and sponsors by having people buy a plank of the bridge and then had their names engraved in the plank. Some are just names, and some say in “Loving Memory of.” I have run over their names so many times. I have made it a point on occasion to look at them and see if I know any of the names. I may know a few, but for the most part, they are all strangers. Yet upon their names, I stand.
Today as I ran, it just made me pause and think. My generation is a generation of a lot of words, pictures, posts, and videos. And a lot of whining and crying!
There were generations before us that built things, lots of things. They built our railroads, our state-parks, our buildings, our homes, our schools, our churches, our community centers, our businesses, and our cute downtowns. They built, and they built, and they are still building.
You probably don’t see them much on social media or tik-tok, because they are off somewhere building something!
Upon their shoulders we stand, upon their shoulders we live, we are strong only because of the foundations they laid for us.
My father is a builder, it is all he knows to do. He has built churches, he has built homes, duplexes, apartment buildings, a non-profit organization, community groups, a family and he doesn’t stop. The seeds of his life are everywhere. He is 68 years old and is building a house all by himself in Bartlesville on the corner of 13th and Cherokee, just because he wants to. I stand on his shoulders.
His gift of music, his great communication skills, his teaching, his work ethic, his faith, his love for his children (all over the world), it all lives in me. So often in this day-and-age we forget how we are not our own, we are not “self-made”. If you are breathing, someone made you!
I look at my boys now with such awe, thinking about the ingredients that have been poured into them through the genes of my husband and me. How amazing to think that they carry pieces of me inside of them. My blood runs through their veins, and theirs in mine.
As we look around our world today, we keep forgetting that we all have a daddy. That we all are not here for ourselves, we all are here at this place in history because of those that endured more than our generation could even imagine. We can fight our little wars on social media, but we have no idea what war, famine, and hardship looks like. I am sitting in my house ordering food to arrive at my door when I want it. I have no idea what it feels like to be hungry. I have no idea what it is like to have to work, sweat, and toil just to try to survive.
I do not want to be a whiner, I want to be one that looks at all the names on the bridge and says, “Thank you, I will not let you down.” I want to gaze into the sky and recognize and sense that since I am surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let me throw off every weight and things that so easily ensnare me and let me Run! Let me run the race set out for me with everything I have within me. I won’t just run over your names; I will stand on them.
Pathfinder picture from http://www.bartlesvilleparks.net/Pages/pathfinder1.html