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Running for Soaring Wings Ranch

It’s an early Saturday October morning in Arkansas. I stayed overnight with my sister in Conway. Now I’m heading toward downtown Little Rock (30 minutes away) for the Poetry Day Event.

I’ve been dreading the traffic on I-40 since I awakened. The house is quiet when I open the front door leading to my car.

This is an easy-traffic street across from a golf course, not far from a college. People use it as a cut-through street, avoiding red lights and congestion.

Sounds of talking and laughter when I open the door.

I am stunned by what I see: runners and walkers as far as my eyes can see. Like a train without end.

I walk to the street and call out, “Who are you guys?”

“Soaring Wings. We are running for Soaring Wings,” someone yells back. Two people put their arms out like birds soaring. They laugh. I smile.

I get in my car and creep out of the driveway, dodging orange cones and moving five miles an hour, facing young, athletic runners. Up the hill and to the right, hundreds more in a line. What a sight to see!

As I move through the residential blocks, I pass people sitting in yard chairs near the edge of the road, hands up and ready to high-five anyone who sees them. There’s a station to get free water. Children and adults stand in the yard, watching and encouraging.

I slow to take photos and ask walkers, “What is Soaring Wings?”

A man stops to reply, “We run and walk for a Christian Youth Ranch, for youth who have been neglected and abused. This is just what we do.”

Just what we do. It resonates with me.

I see old ones, slow ones.

My heart is touched. They are FOR children and young people making it in this hard world.

It feels like a procession, where I’m supposed to pull to the side of the road and stop my car out of respect. (It’s just what we do in the South for funeral processions.) I don’t stop because the police escort waves me along.

The string of people running/walking is impressive. People of all sorts: short, tall, talkative, silent, laughing, frowning, loners, pairs, groups.

They run to honor the living, the kids and youth of this world who are struggling.

Everyone in this procession is a stranger to me, but I feel honor and respect toward each one.

They look at me. I look at them.

I have great respect and love for them. The Holy Spirit touches my heart, and I tear up. They are showing the world who they are.

I finally reach the street where they are coming from. Hundreds more.

It normally takes five minutes to get from my sister’s house to the red light. Today, it is taking more than fifteen. A wonderful fifteen minutes of being a spectator.

They are witnessing to me by running/walking.

I come to the red light and heavy traffic, where cars and big trucks, unaware, are whizzing past.

But for a few minutes, my world almost stops.

I slow down to give honor to these strangers and what they are all about: giving up sleep to care and run/walk for the good of others.

I’ll never see these people again, but their level of caring touches my depth.

“It’s just what we do,” he’d said. Yes, our doing shows our love and care.

It makes my heart swell. There is good still in this world.

I salute each runner/walker.


Pat Durmon

All comments welcome!

Photo by Pat Durmon of runners in Conway, Arkansas, October 21, 2017.

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