606 welcomes new contributor Ben Wideman, he Campus Minister for 3rd Way Collective, a unique campus ministry focusing on peace, justice, and faith at Penn State. Ben grew up in Canada, went to college in Virginia, and seminary in California, before finding a new home in Pennsylvania. When he’s not working with young adults, he spends his time enjoying his spouse and three incredible kids, and collects hobbies like homebrewing, gardening, playing disc golf, watching baseball, cycling, podcasting, and lots of other random things. You can follow his ministry at www.3rdwaycollective.org
Campus Pastor Ben is on Sabbatical from May 1st through July 31st during the summer of 2019. He will occasionally be posting blog reflections of that time right here.
From May 10-15 Ben is riding on the annual PA-IPL bike trip. Learn more about this annual trip right here.
Our bike trip experience today grounded us to the earth in some special ways. After a pleasant night at Huntingdon Presbyterian Church we loaded up our bikes and rode just a short distance to a local park where we helped with invasive species removal and the planting of native trees and shrubs. We got to trade our bike gloves for work gloves, and got our hands connected to the earth and its plants. In the process of clearing away invasive species we uncovered some native species like Jack-In-The-Pulpit, Tulip Poplar, and Trout Lillies… plants that grow slowly and have been choked out by invasive species. The hope is that efforts like the small one we made are providing these plants with a better foothold to be more fully present again.
We enjoyed a tasty lunch at Standing Stone Coffee before climbing into the saddle again for a meandering ride down to Orbisonia. This stretch includes some beautiful scenery, but also some obnoxiously busy highway stretches with rumble strips. We also made the annual stop along this stretch at a Dairy Queen part way along the journey.
Orbisonia is a tiny town along a river that had its glory days during the late 1800s. It feels depressed, but the people we’ve met are full of a desire to be hospitable to our traveling group. We were fed well and after dinner crossed the river to visit an old rail yard, which still operates old trolley tours during the summer.
I found myself thinking today about what it means to be rooted – both in terms of the plant species we connected to, but also the people we interacted with. What does it mean to be connected to a region or place, and how do we find that connection when we are just passing through? Our conversations today also included an ongoing question about what humanity’s role is in solving some of the ecological issues – especially when humanity is the root problem of so many of these things.
Tomorrow’s journey will bring even more of the same, as we make our way down to Hagerstown, MD.