The monthly giving continues with the October donation which fits with All Saint’s Day, so this post is in November. In October 2016, I was honored to walk through the Holy Doors of Saint Peter’s Basilica, during the Year of Mercy. It was on that day, that I was able to recognize the enormity of how many people prayed with me as our walk approached the doors. In those steps, I was able to feel a multitude of ancestors of spirit walking with me. Those may may be as many stars as in the sky (Genesis 26:4), lifting up prayers for those of us still walking upon the Earth. This journey helped me to fully begin to understand our participation in the “communion of saints”, referenced in Nicene Creed and Apostle Creed.
Then the participation with the saints may include finishing the work and dreams of those who left the Earth before their dreams were fulfilled. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) come to mind when thinking about the place receiving the October giving, because it was created in the memory of someone who died, in a wish to continue the good works they started upon the Earth. That is Victory Junction camp, that was started in memory of Adam Petty. Those folks who are unfamiliar, he was a race car driver in a family of famous race care drivers. The camp has an inclusive Mission Statement, in addition to meeting the needs for a joyous camp experience for children and their families with different mental, emotional and physical needs. This includes a place for the families to stay and is all right there at Victory Junction.
The race started and finished on the grounds of Victory Junction, that is filled with race car references. An author writing about their running experiences was one main reason for going to the race. A special guest in 2010 was, John “The Penguin” Bingham, whose books are the reason we caught the running bug. Although, when our paths crossed, it was moments after our arrival. There we were still gathering ourselves figuring out where everything was before the race. We were exhausted from heart ache and three hour long drive to Randleman, NC, on a cold December. A day that was also the day after our dog at the age of 18 died. Sadly that encounter with the running legend, is not a memory filled with an inspirational conversation, but a funny memory of a groggy fumbling conversation of no relevance. This still gives us a chuckle, since I am seldom without something to say, as you will soon find out.
This race had a few celebrities present only two of which I could point out. As a child occasionally when visiting my Dad’s parents, we would sit while they watched racing. This made it possible for me to I recognize Richard “The King” Petty as he waved the green flag starting the first half marathon race my partner ran. There he was in his iconic hat an arms length away. I thought Dad would have been star struck to be standing where I was, so close to this race car legend. Interestingly, my Dad had died three months earlier, so I could not call to tell him or send a photo. It was in this moment I gained a real understanding, of how we carry our ancestors with us in our hearts as we gather new life memories.
The camp was busy with activity of fans waiting and cheering as the 5K finishers came through. Then the wheel chair half marathon racers. I was walking around looking at the grounds, listening and soaking it all in. I wanted to get warm and to also charge my phone, because I was getting regular race updates and did not want to miss one. I went inside where they were preparing for the busy rush of finishers, with homemade chili and other folks waiting for their race finishers.
While I was warming up, I had a nice gentleman come up and ask if I was enjoying the event and who I knew racing. I explained, how it was my partners first half marathon race, then went on a ramble about the camp. I went on and on and on, about how great the camp is and how I have learned the families do not pay anything out of pocket, when they have the opportunity to attend the camp. To continue that I learned it is in memory of someone and a vision they had. I am not sure how long we talked or maybe he listened, but I was inspired by what was created at Victory Junction. The gentlemen politely listened, we talked some more and thanked me for sharing my thoughts before moved on.
I sat down to read s message, to learn she was in the last 5K of the race. This news prompted me to gather up our stuff to go outside, just as I looked up to hear someone reference the gentlemen I spoke with moments before as Kyle, to then reference their race. Yes, I had just blathered on about the camp and the race, with Kyle Petty one of the founders of the camp. He was so kind and humble, to not point out he was an important part of solidifying the idea and dream in memory of what his brother had already started.
In life, we start ripples with our experiences. Those ripples can be connections to people, places or even memories. These ripples can connect to others and others can connect to us, a different way of making us active participants in the “communion of saints”. The Petty family continues the ripple that Adam Petty had started by visiting children in the hospitals. Then what these families do and what we do with the ripples that reach us, is up to us.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.