Surprises are both personal and communal. For example, in "Words with...Serena," in her cover issue of Sports Illustrated, the number one female tennis player is asked "Do you still have the capacity to surprise yourself?" She says "Oh, yeah. I've totally surprised myself. I never thought I would win another Serena Slam [four straight majors spread over two seasons, which she first accomplished in 2002-03]. Not even after the ['15] French Open. Especially not at 33." Tennis fans are thrilled she did.
I would like to think that more than just a competitive spirit is what drives an athlete to stay in the game. Perhaps this capacity to surprise herself is what motivates Serena to work toward winning the Grand Slam this year (if she wins the US Open next week that prestigious distinction among tennis players is hers) or holding he most Grand Slam titles (she has 22. Margaret Smith Court has 24). What if she is capable of more? Why not surprise herself? her fans? athletes and the history of the game?! I for one, wait in suspense to know what will be. And if she wins the Open, will she be named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year? Will she share that honor with anyone else? TBD.
And many surprises are revealed and shared with others. I think back to my 27th birthday. I was in a very sad place. I felt as though I had nothing to celebrate. In my grief, my brother reached out in a way I could have never expected. He threw me a surprise birthday party. He totally got me. The joy that came with that surprise, trumped my sadness. Joy can do that.
And next time you personally encounter a surprise, offer a prayer in gratitude or pray this one for others (from Ignatian Spirituality)
May the God of Surprises delight you, inviting you to accept gifts not yet imagined.Photo Credits
May the God of Transformation call you, opening you to continual renewal.
May the God of Justice confront you, daring you to see the world through God’s eyes.
May the God of Abundance affirm you, nudging you towards deeper trust.
May the God of Embrace hold you, encircling you in the hearth of God’s home.
May the God of Hopefulness bless you, encouraging you with the fruits of faith.
May the God of Welcoming invite you, drawing you nearer to the fullness of God’s expression in you.
May God who is Present be with you, awakening you to God in all things, all people, and all moments.
May God be with you. Amen