|Only problem here:|
Ryan had this shirt long
before Martin came to town
Of course I had the nerve to ask this midway through a set of reps at the 6:00 a.m. "Hour of Power" class. Slightly cruel on my part, I launched the inquiry while Ryan was on the burpee rotation; no one likes burpees.
Ryan coughed out "No. I'm wearing it for the basketball coach."
Breathing much easier with a dead lift set, I responded "Oh. Pat Summit?"
I thought this might be true. Ryan is the only man I know who has admitted to scalping tickets for an NCAA women's basketball game. When UConn came to town to play Stanford he took his three daughters to Maples Pavilion thinking he could make the purchase on site. Not true.
"No, in support the new coach at Cal. Cuonzo Martin came from Tennessee. I was hoping someone would ask me about that."
I looked at Ryan and his response confirmed what I already knew: here was a kindred spirit. That is totally my move. I wear shirts, sweatshirts and hats hoping that someone will ask a question that lets me launch into a story or anecdote about my allegiance. I love nothing more than the insider's guide to supporting one's school or team. This was a good one. Ryan is a indeed a Cal alum and a loyal Bear-backer. In response, I said the only appropriate thing to say, amidst the next set of push-ups. "Go Bears!"
I wish I had picked up on his lead from the start. I already receive e-mails from the Cal Athletics department on a weekly basis. I wanted to know more about the 16th head coach of the men's basketball team.
Martin has an impressive history as a coach and a former player. What I found most intriguing however is that "he returned to his alma mater where he earned his bachelor’s degree in restaurant, hotel, institutional and tourism management from Purdue in 2000." And let's be honest, it's a lot easier to wear a Tennessee shirt in support of Cuonzo Martin than it is to wear one for the former head coach Mike Montgomery, who came from Stanford.
I left Ryan and others in class that morning by saying "Today is Good Friday. It's this big one. I don't know if you do anything on this day or celebrate Easter, but well....pause...a little silence....enjoy your weekend." A small part of me wished that conversation could have been as animated and natural as the one about a new coach, a college and our allegiance to it.
I try to live by the conviction that although personal, faith is not meant to be private. Providence Place Ministries says it well. "While our faith is a personal matter–a very personal matter–because it is about our personal relationship with God, it is not at all private, especially if we are Christians."
Why? because the Gospel is not something we are called to undertake by ourselves. No. Jesus said "where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there." Living the Gospel is indeed a challenge, but it is also one that bears great fruit in public witness and public action.
Archbishop Carlson said "We are baptized into a family of faith, the Church, and we live out our Christian discipleship in communion with all our sisters and brothers (living and deceased) who make up the one Body of Christ. The social, or communal, dimension of Catholic belief and practice is every bit as important as the individual, or personal, dimension of Christian life."
Later that same day, I went into my bank and the teller who helped me was wearing a beautiful cross. I looked at her, knowing she must be a Christian. I also knew that she would understand the significance of Good Friday.
I wish I had said something to her about it. For some reason, I held back and kept our interaction strictly professional, but I wished I hadn't. When we wear the cross we bear public witness to what we are a part of yesterday, today and forever. After all, He is Risen!
Indeed, what we wear is often an invitation to a conversation about who we are, what we believe and what we value. It can help us understand those we live, work and play with. It reminds me that who we are isn't meant to be private but shared with others—even if we are different. In fact, that's what makes life so vibrant and interesting, in spite of our differences we share much more that we realize.