This morning my running friends held our annual white elephant gift exchange. After completing our normal Saturday run, we headed over to a coffee shop to exchange odd gifts.
The rules are that the gift must be something from your home that is running related and you no longer need. No one is to buy anything new. The gifts take on a bizarre quality because several gifts of old running shirts or race gift bags are re-exchanged ever year. We compete to see who can give the most memorable gift.
This year was particularly rich. One of our members, Tim Torgerson, retired from referring college football. His autographed framed photo in his referee uniform caused quite a stir (this gift barely qualified as “running” related). Several people exchanged un-open gifts for the right to his photo.
But perhaps the best gift was a sculpture, called “The anatomy of a runner.” It was created with wood dowels and cut cross-sections of old running shoes. That is one white elephant gift that will be re-gifted next year.
I ended up with a new cap that I think I will actually wear.
The gift exchanged reminded me once again of the power of community and rituals. This is the eighth year that our group convenes for this silliness. We laugh, talk and reflect. We remember old gifts and wonder what new gifts will come.
Running is often seen as a solitary sport. Yet the power of community is real and significant. The same is true for our Christian faith. We each come to Jesus as unique individuals by our own path. Yet we also belong to Jesus through the body of Christ. The shared rituals of worship, prayer, communion, and song link us together. Together we rejoice with those who rejoice and we weep with those who weep.
The running group not only helps me keep a healthy practice of running, but also a healthy practice of friendship. Thanks.
Lord Jesus, thank you for friends who laugh and cry with me.
Just came back from my solitary run today. I’ve never had the fortune of finding a running community, but I’ve been a part of many other communities, many of them based in our shared faith. The ritual of faith, friendship and community is indeed a blessing! One to cherish at this wonderful time of year. Thanks for sharing, John.
Kathy, perhaps it is my age, but I continue to grow in my belief that simple rituals are vital to friendship and community. The simple act of sharing a lunch with a friend is so significant. Thanks for responding and keep running strong.
Its was a GREAT time this morning. I failed to let you know how my gift related to running John. It is the end of refereeing so now I can RUN every Saturday and even better without being sore from the night before….. OK?!
Tim, I thought it was because as a ref you were always running towards the penalty. I certainly hope you are able to run well for many years to come.