Saturday, March 21, 2020

What I Miss But What I Have Learned in This Year's March Madness

I can almost smell the sweat.

I miss that squeak. A lateral move, the touch and go, the pivot or fake right go left that leads the athlete's shoes to squeak on the hardwood. Slip. Slide. More squeak.

And how awesome that those very shoes punctuate the floor with a shock of green?! Kelly green. Irish.
I look down. This video is only 7 minutes and 45 seconds. I already know I don't want it to end.

I love the uniforms—blue for Our Lady, and gold for where she stands on the Dome. Beauty in motion. Truly bBeautiful.

And what a great message Father Pete McCormick, CSC preaches. He says: "The same is true in the spiritual life. We cannot be passive. We must, in our own way, scurry. So my challenge to you is, You want to see the miraculous glory of God? Participate in it." 

I think to myself. Do I go after it? How to I participate? How do I include others? Do I? Do you? 

I realize why I love this story so much; it reminds me of what I miss: Sports and Spirituality—live, in real time.

Right now, every sports fan knows what time of year it should be. We know what we are missing. My friend Haley Scott DeMaria captures that sentiment so well. In her blog, she writes 

This might be the most Madness we’ve seen in March in a long time. Who would have thought the biggest news in NCAA basketball tournament history would not be #16 UMBC beating #1 UVA in the first round?!  As a former student-athlete, my heart aches. As the mother of a high school senior whose (final) spring sports season is up in the air, I have a pit in my stomach. As an American, I get it. It’s the right thing to do. But that doesn’t make the heartache and heart break any easier.
Supporting the Fighting Irish On and Off the Court reminded me that I'm not just missing sports or the NCAA men's and women's tourney, I miss the spirituality if all too. I miss the unfolding stories and moments from this time of year that transcends the x's and o's. I wonder what Sister Jean is up to. Many lament that they will not hear "One Shining Moment" as the madness comes to a close. 
I miss the way that my spirituality finds life in community. I already miss my Sunday morning ritual of 8:00 a.m. Mass at St.Vincent de Paul and the parishioners I see from one week to the next.

I miss the pressure that Lent puts on me—that might sound weird, but it's true. Every Friday, I wonder Should I be at Stations of the Cross right now? I am wondering what Holy Week will be like. I would like to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation—is that an option? 

I am disappointed that my classroom wasn't able to complete our journey with CRS in giving to Operation Rice Bowl as one. As part of my Lenten practice, I was hoping to get to the 7:15 a.m. school mass once a week. To gather around the Eucharistic table with my faith-filled colleagues is a meaningful way to start the day. I've struggled to figure out how I can reinvent my Lenten commitment.

In light of "shelter-in-place," I watch Father Pete with a new perspective. He says, "We always celebrate a team mass, whether it's home or away. If it's home, we'll do it right in the team room and typically if it's away, we'll arrive and settle into the site." Now more than ever, I realize he is a gift to this team AND he has a gifted ministry.

One way he's able to do that is with his "Mass in a suitcase." Its importance is not to be underestimated—packed with intentionality and great care, he's willing to look like the diva priest who shows up with not one but two rolling into suitcases by his side.

He shares that the purpose of a team chaplain is to get a sense of the pressures that Division 1 college basketball players undergo. The viewer sees him board the charter plane with the team. He adds "And then, at that point it's just a ministry of presence" What a gift.
The video winds down with two contests: Notre Dame vs. Clemson on February 9 and Notre Dame vs. University of Virginia two days later. I caught one of those games live—something I probably took for granted at that time. I hear the announcer calling the plays...the points. I hear the clapping and the cheering. The power and the glory—the sights and the sounds of Sports and Spirituality.

In his ministry of presence Father Pete declares, “I have a responsibility to share the joy that I’ve encountered in my vocation — even with the hardship.” He speaks openly and candidly about being a priest in a time when the Catholic Church lacks credibility. He states, "I have a responsibility to still love those who are in front of me." Seeing him after the game, eating a meal with the team, it's clear that he does. 

Thank you Father Pete. I  would like for you to know that I aim to follow your example and share the joy I have found in my vocation, amidst the hardship—the stories of sports and of spirituality past, present and in due time all those to come.

Photo Credits

Team Joy

No comments:

Post a Comment