Sunday, June 27, 2010

Up the Mountain...

On Wednesday morning, as is my custom, I turned to the sports page. An article caught my eye. It was written as the result of the reporter having joined John Lott, the Phoenix Cardinals strength coach and his charges on a morning encounter with Camelback Mountain. There was something about that article that resonated with me. Well, I finished breakfast and went about my day. Wednesday is the day I make every effort to get serious about what is to go in to this effort. There were some thoughts swimming around in my head, yes there is a great deal of space in there. As usual when one looks at something long enough, there appears, out of where I do not know, an insight into the reality behind the reality. One could say, the spiritual meaning.
As the day went on, it became clear of the connection between what John Lott is aiming for with the Phoenix Cardinals, and the deeper meaning of our hike, which to my way of thinking, is the spiritual journey.

John’s vision for that journey up and down Camelback is a way to instill not only strength and endurance, but perseverance, as well. All of those qualities are necessary for a football team. These qualities are essential in the fourth quarter, when a vital stop has to be made, or a winning drive is demanded of he players. Then the memories of those moments when the desire of the limited body is crying out "QUIT", but a higher power, John Lott, would not allow that to happen.

So as on the mountain, so on the field, the player, gathers himself together, sucks it up. In this moment, of great struggle with human limitations, he somehow gathers a strength from that special place all where athletes want to go to. Something clicks, for him, which spreads to others. There is that voice which says, all those moments of painful struggle, in June, have prepared me for this. The ball is snapped, bodies and will collide, and the result is , not about winning or losing, it is about the honest and best effort. Those moments will forever be there in the athletes unconscious. At a later date in time when the best efforts, of an authentic human being is demanded then, this athlete, knows he has what it takes. He knows what it means to be in the "zone". In the language of the spiritual life, we call that serenity.

We do not have an opportunity, well at least most of us, to meet the challenge of Camelback every day. We are, however, presented with challenges far greater than what can be encountered there. We have to face loss of health and energy, personally or we are asked to journey with a loved one who today meets that challenge. The added burden of lack of employment, and health insurance adds to the anxiety and pain. The uncertainty in relationships, the pain of loss and betrayal, leaves so many human beings, to lead a life of victimhood, rather than the life of a survivor. Living life as a victim, is a life of pure hell. (My definition of hell: a place where there is no love.) There seems to be no hope, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is however that still, quiet voice that struggles from the depths to whisper, this is Not my lot in life. I have been called from all of eternity to live a life of freedom, not fear. I will be a survivor. In this encounter, the truth has been spoken. The lie has been named. Light has appeared out of the darkness. We have just experienced on a deeper level the journey of Jesus, which St. Luke introduces to us today. We are told "Jesus firmly resolved to proceed toward Jerusalem". Here is what Carroll Stuhlmueller has written: Luke's "journey narrative" is ..a symbolic way, a literary device, to combine several journeys, Jesus and OUR OWN, through the mystery of death- resurrection...The events in Jesus' ministry become the way by which we follow as disciples. ... Luke, therefore, wants to jar us into the realization that this is OUR journey, so that the passion and resurrection of Jesus becomes a living, transforming reality within us.