Brothers in Arms

July 15, 2021 by

Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I’ve witnessed your suffering
As the battle raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms

Besides being the best song Dire Straits ever recorded, “Brothers in Arms” expresses the deep camaraderie that all men crave. Men are meant to fight together. Not against each other, but struggling side by side against a common enemy. Today, few men get the chance. Yes, there are still wars and bushfires, but how many of us are soldiers or fire fighters?

Chad1EmbedAuthor joined by friends on 60 km run from Glenn Innes to Inverell. Photo credit: Inverell Times.

Recently I experienced a tiny taste of this tangible solidarity in adversity. Comparing my experience to the trials confronted by soldiers or fire fighters seems trite, yet for a short time I did experience the solidarity expressed in “Brothers in Arms.”

Two weeks ago a friend and I ran sixty kilometers (over thirty-seven miles), from the town of Glen Innes to Inverell. We wanted to raise funds for a local girl recently diagnosed with leukemia, and we wanted to do something really hard. We started at 8:00 a.m. on a beautiful winter morning, and honestly the first thirty kilometers were a lot of fun. The hills seemed to disappear under our feet, the views were glorious, and we enjoyed each other’s company.

Chad2EmbedPhoto credit: Inverell Times.

After the first forty kilometers, we were joined by six fresh runners for the final twenty. Then the cramping started. None of the hills we had to climb were very significant, but each one turned my muscles to lumps of rock, and nothing I could do seemed to help the pain. The last fifteen kilometers were a brutal slog, each kilometer seemed like ten. And yet I can scarcely remember having such a good time. We ran together, shoulder to shoulder, the fresh runners adapting their pace as I ran slower and slower. Some sang, or shouted jokes that seemed increasingly hilarious. Each kilometer was greeted with rebel yells and exhortations not to “ring the bell.” On the final climb, we formed a flying wedge (perhaps flying is the wrong word), and I felt surrounded by brothers willing me not to give up.

Chad3EmbedThe author's daughter handing out water at an aid station.

As we approached our goal we were joined by more runners, eager to help us bring it home. On the last descent into Inverell I discovered a hidden reserve, and we pounded out the finale at a cracking pace (or so it seemed).

As a member of a peace church, I will never know the solidarity of soldiers under fire, and I may never experience the bare knuckled fight for survival that was part of daily life for our ancestors, but for a brief time I knew the mateship forged in common endeavor. You did not desert me, my brothers in arms.

Chad Huleatt lives with his wife, Brenna, and their four children at Danthonia, a Bruderhof in New South Wales, Australia.


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