Chang Cheng: I am here

The Great Wall. 

“Yahweh” first taught me about this place. That’s Professor Hall Peebles of Wabash College. Circa 1997, he opened my eyes to other faiths, cultures, traditions. 

This had a profound impact on the course of my future. 

Stories of ancient Chinese traditions flowed from his lips, as the trusty tissue in his hand was used to wipe his nose incessantly. 

Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism. The Silk Road, the Great Wall. Thousands of miles long, its many sections together would crisscross the USA twice over. 

Years ago, I heard of the marathon held along the Wall every year. And we’ve all seen and heard of the photos from space.    

Now, I will never forget my first moment spotting the Wall: riding in the backseat of a nice white car with a strange man from Beijing. A few kilometers outside a little village, I looked up and in the distance saw one of the iconic towers along the wall on a mountainside. The Wall itself snaked impossibly up and over this steep mountainside, where at least two more towers were grounded. 

Tower on Wall to back left

The anxieties of my broken Chinese and uncertainty about how far the driver would take me transformed into joy. A smile grabbed my face. 

I am here. 

Professor Peebles: I hope you are looking down on us tomorrow as we traverse the surrounding roads and forest trails. 

We will run this ancient land–some for 15 kilometers, some, myself included, for 30 kilometers. And we will find our way up onto this mammoth wall–graveyard to thousands of workers who perished building it over the centuries.

We will run on the Great Wall of China. 

Chang Cheng. 

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