Friday, December 20, 2013

Laugh, Think, Cry....Everyday

Today was my final class with the Fall semester seniors enrolled in Sports and Spirituality. I loved this diverse group. They were smart, funny, open to new ideas, they asked thoughtful questions, the challenged each other in a respectful and spirited way. They also did (most of) their work...
What a great class. I miss them already.
The course concludes with a Sports and Spirituality synthesis. It's fun to see what athletes and saints they admire, who they wish we had discussed, what readings/articles spoke to them, and an image captures their spirituality (next blog posting!). After their presentations, I share my own remarks. I like to leave them with a parting wish for their future. Consider it a spiritual charge.

Ever since my spiritual director asked me to consider "What is God's dream for you?" my final words have addressed a common theme—not exactly pursuing your dreams but rather— the relationship between spirituality and dreams. When I heard her question, I could only think of a very personal and loving God. God has a dream for me? I know that scripture reveals the way that God has spoken to humanity through dreams (Joseph, Christ's earthly father), but this was different.

I like to think my spirituality is the way I carry out and work towards God dream for me. When I am in touch with my spiritual self, I am doing just that. My deepest desires give me purpose and passion. Sports is never far from that. At its best, athletics has the ability to be a showcase for the spiritual sense... if we have the eyes to see it—in the world and in ourselves.
One of my all time favorite responses to "How does it feel to have won the Masters?"....
And so in the Spring of 2012, I left my students with the words of Bubba Watson. Upon winning the 2012 Masters he said "I never got this far in my dreams." Clearly, he lived his life in such a way that prepared him for that feat. 

In the wake of the 2012 World Series title, I could not help but reference the words of the MVP, Pablo Sandoval. He said "I never imagined the president was going to write me.  That the presidential candidate was also going to write to me.  Many stars have written to me.  I’m a young man who suddenly receives all that in just a day?  My mother couldn’t be at the World Series, but every day she told me “Never wake up from this dream.” Panda reminds us that not only can our dreams come true...but when and if they so, remain grateful.

As I gathered my thoughts for this special group, I came to see every semester gives birth to a new charge. In the words of Pedro Arrupe, SJ "What touches our heart, what amazes us with joy and gratitude" is ever new, ever changing—and so are we. This is why I think it's so important to understand spirituality.
And so today I shared with them three words that have become a mantra in my life—Laugh, Think, Cry or "LTC." These are the words of the late Jim Valvano, who inspired millions both as a coach and a human being. On March 4, 1993, but a month before he died, he was awarded the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the first annual ESPY Awards. In his acceptance speech, he said
To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.
My friend and I re-encountered these words when we watched the "30 for 30" film about North Carolina State's 1983 Championship run, called Survive and Advance. I can't think of a conversation with this friend that has gone 2 for 3.  Tears of joy, tears of laughter, one thought after another, even when we're not in touch.  That's what those we truly love help us do: laugh, think and cry. And some have the ability to do so everyday. Wow!

I wanted my students to know this motto and I wanted them to know it's a part of me. In that sense, I shared my own spirituality. 

I hope they will have relationships that engender all three. I hope they will find in themselves the ability to do each every single day. I hope they know even God is in on this....and that athletics will provide them with examples to understand their own dreams, credos and more. LTC...everyday.

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