I had an interesting flashback this week and remembered something that happened in 1985. When I remembered it, it was vivid and as if it was yesterday. I remembered a particular football practice when our offense was struggling. I was playing nose guard and having fun with our center. He was getting frustrated as I kept blowing by him. One time I blew past him and ran past our QB and was slowing to stop (we could not hit the QB) and I got hit right in the centre of my back. A cheap shot took me to the ground after the play. It hurt….and it was on. I jumped up and starting fighting with the player who hit me. It was not very nice…..and the coach separated us and told me to go running. He said, “run until I get tired”. I was outraged at the injustice. I was horrified that this coach did not tell this player off for delivering a cheap shot. I started running…..and running. Practice was about to end and I was still running with my helmet on. The coach called over and said for me to stop. I shouted back “I am not tired yet”. I am sure I was cussing him with every breath around that track. The team and coaches left the field…..I was still running. I carried on running until I saw the last pick up truck leave the school. I finally stopped and went home. I never spoke about it to anyone and never talked to the coaches about it. I still remember climbing the stairs of the stadium after practice that day as everyone was gone. I felt like saying “I showed you! but I remember feeling broken and vulnerable.
I guess as I remember this event in my life this week I am really struggling with other things which have sent me running around the track of my mind and that thing in me which continues saying “hell no I will not stop running for you”. Perhaps we give others far too much power and control over our joy through the years and find ourselves running for no reason.
I think this revelation means that this Pentecost I am going to try and come off of this track…I think it may mark a new adventure for me. This feels like a new way of living. This feels like a way to experience liberation.
When I give my pre-game talk to the PV Shark Football team in the coming days I think I may tell this story. I want them to know I understand frustration and injustice. I want them to join me in finding a creative way to channel this feeling such that they will not feel the need to joust windmills throughout their life. Perhaps there is something very deep in me that is fed in good high school football experiences as mine was not great. I have spent many seasons coaching and love it. Perhaps a favorite moment is still the calling for punishment after practice for an altercation between two players….at the end of practice the captains called all the players to share the punishment together…..it was beautiful….and united us.
So prayers for all who have felt the sharp end of injustice. Prayers for those who run needlessly thinking they are proving something. Prayers for players who don’t reach their potential because of bad coaching. Prayers for new vision as courses change and new landmarks and heros are needed.
PS My eye is healing although I still do not have sight in my left eye. There is some sight returning in the top of my eye and the doctor assures me it is coming back. Everything seems to be healing…but these things do take a while.