CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter…
In the CIW for Feb. 12, I talked about my sports obsession and claimed that it was really my commitment to justice that made me obsessed with sports. [You just have to scroll down to read it to see my reasoning.]
Another reason, though, for my sports obsession… I was good at it.
That’s not quite accurate. I was good at sports physically. I had good eye-hand coordination. I could connect the bat to the ball and hit it a surprisingly long way for a skinny guy. I could catch a fly or scoop up a grounder. I could put a ball through a hoop. I did not have much confidence, though. I loved to hit the ball and catch the ball and shoot the ball, but I assumed others were better than I at doing those things. So I always deferred to competitors who were more aggressive. As BTN basketball analyst Shon Morris says, “The meek may inherit the earth, but they won’t get any offensive rebounds.”
Sports, though, gave me control of my body. Especially when puberty hit, I was afraid of my body. No one talked to me about the changes my body was going through. It no longer seemed like my body. As I got used to it, I wasn’t so much afraid of my body as unsure of it. either way, I wasn’t going to get many offensive rebounds, but I could still chase down a fly ball with that body, and doing that gave me a sense of security. Later, being able to run 26 miles and 385 yards without stopping gave me an even greater sense of control of my body.
The Apostle, Paul, says that our bodies are God’s temples. [I Corinthians 6:19-20.] I always got that sense of holiness when I was tossing a ball to a child, running hard on a back road, hearing the swish of the ball through a net. I can’t do those things myself anymore, but I still get that feeling of holiness through wholeness when I see someone else do those things well.
Many years ago I read A Leaf In the Storm by Lin Yutang. In it, the protagonist is caught up in Chinese revolution and upheaval. She has been a child and woman of privilege, very much concerned with her body, but only in terms of beauty--clothing and makeup and seductiveness. She becomes a refugee, stripped of all her privilege, wandering homeless. Then she sees a woman working in a field. She is barefoot. Her muscular legs are covered with mud. Her calves bulge as she bends to her work. It is an epiphany for the protagonist. “There,” she says, “there is real beauty, for those legs are doing what they are meant to do.”
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