Monday, December 22, 2014

When Did You Start Out Slow? Thank you Apollos Hester

The 2014 high school football season is now complete. At the gym this morning, guys were talking about who won the state title this past weekend. As they did, I thought about the journey the coaches, players and their families took to get there. A pigskin on the gridiron isn't possible without the sacrifice of many people to make it happen.
Thank you Alex for your great question
So I guess it's fitting that I love the invitation every conclusion of a season brings. It is one to look back and push "rewind." I ask myself: What were the highlights? The joys and surprises? What were missed opportunities? Where did we fail? Where did we make necessary changes? What do we need to do between now and the beginning of next year to get better?

One question I've never asked myself ifs this one: "When have you started out slow?"

This unusual question was brought to my attention by one of my beloved students, Alex. At the beginning of each Sports and Spirituality class, one senior leads prayer, writes a  journal question for his/her classmates on the board and then has the option of connecting the prompt to a video. Those familiar with the video, which is actually post-game interview, had some understanding for why we were addressing this question. Those who had yet to see it, related Alex's prompt to something much different. 
Apollos Hester, a senior wide receiver for the East View (Texas) Patriots was interviewed after 42-41 defeat of Vandegrift High School.  And Deadspin nails its importance in writing, "The conversation got deep pretty quickly. You'll feel like you can do anything after listening to Hester."
All right, well, at first we started slow, we started real slow, and you know, that's all right, that's OK, because sometimes in life, you're gonna start slow. That's OK. We told ourselves, 'Hey, we're gonna start slow, we're gonna keep going fast. We're gonna start slow, but we're always, always gonna finish fast. No matter what the score was, we're gonna finish hard, we're gonna finish fast. 
Yeah, they had us the first half, I'm not gonna lie, they had us. We weren't defeated, but they had us. But it took guts, it took an attitude—that's all it takes. That's all it takes to be successful is an attitude. And that's what our coach told us. He said, 'Hey, it's gonna be tough. It's gonna be tough. It's gonna be hard. You're gonna go out there, you're gonna battle, you're gonna fight, you're gonna do it for one another. Do it for each other, you're gonna do it for yourself, you're gonna do it for us, and you're gonna go out with this win.' And we believed that, we truly did. And it's an awesome feeling.  
In today's society is is ever more challenging to believe that is's OK to start off slow. Like Veruca Salt in "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," too often we find ourselves screaming (even if it's just inside) "I want it now Daddy!"

I continually try to remind myself that "haste makes waste" and "good things come to wait." And I loved hearing shared wisdom from this young person. It's important to be reminded that in life sometimes we are going to start of slow. And I would say it's more than "sometimes;" I think it's often. But again, that's OK.

In his book "Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion" Greg Boyle writes a chapter simply titled "Slow Work." He writes Teilhard de Chardin wrote that we must "trust in the slow work of God." Ours is a God who waits. Who are we not to? It takes what it takes for the great turnaround. Wait for it.”

My students "get it." In fact, they are almost relieved to know that God works this way. In the world and in their lives. It's just too hard to keep up. The Lord God invites us to choose otherwise.

In the Advent season, this is what we are continually reminded to do—to wait and to trust. The world presents a Christmas season that starts out anything but slow, but again, we are reminded "that's OK."

Boyle concludes this chapter by writing "And you hope, and you wait, for the light—this astonishing light." In the final days before Christmas, I invite you to think of the same questions that we ought to ask ourselves at the conclusion of a season—and this season might be Advent or the 2014 year. One question to add to that list is Alex's..."When did you start out slow?" 

Photo Credits
Slow work

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