When you’re ready to quit…

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Two weeks ago today, I was running in the 128th Boston Marathon

—a bucket list item and the fulfillment of a personal dream, to be sure.

But in full transparency: it wasn’t pretty.

I didn’t crush it or run the “dream race” I visualized in my mind heading into the race.

The first 16 miles or so followed my mental script almost to a T, but when I hit the second of the infamous Newton Hills the wheels began shaking and threatened to fall off. In fact, at one point, every single muscle in my legs seized up on me and taking just one. more. step. felt nearly impossible.

Anyone who has competed in physically demanding sports undoubtedly knows that feeling: where you can no longer rely solely on your body to get you to the end, but must tap into your mental strength to gut it out.

Yet even the mentally and physically strongest among us can rarely do that work alone. One of the beauties of the marathon experience—something I certainly experienced in Boston—is the way runners tap into the strength of others, in part relying on them to keep us moving in those moments we feel faint:

Sometimes that encouragement comes from fellow runners, a reminder that running isn’t as solitary a pursuit as it seems.

Other times, it comes in the form of a spectator’s shout of “You got this!” or a high-five from a cheering child.

And a kiss from my wife Sally at the 25-mile mark provided the much-needed boost to cross the finish line with my second-best marathon time.

The same principle holds true in the world and work of placemaking. This isn’t easy work, and it isn’t always pretty. There are moments when the road ahead appears daunting, the pace relentless, and the energy to push through wanes. In those moments, if we want to see our communities truly flourish, it will require all of us—faith communities, civic leaders, neighbors, non-profits, local businesses, you and me—cheering each other on, working together to cross the finish line.

Some of the churches we’ve worked with need a well-timed cheer to help them push through the hard work and make it to the other side.

Others need wisdom and encouragement from fellow churches experiencing some of the same challenges.

Yet no matter the situation, we’ll experience our biggest and best successes together, not in isolation.

The belief that we need to lean into each other when facing our biggest challenges forms the foundation for the R3 Spaces Summit on May 16th. Our vision is to create a space where we can all come together to dream of a better future for our sacred spaces and forgotten places, and then work together to see those dreams become reality. You can REGISTER HERE. We hope to see you there!

Together we run,