It’s been a long time since I wrote anything in the style of a blog. I wanted to come back to it, but the expectation for comebacks seems to demand epic moments and powerful stories. If I waited for that muse, my comeback would never occur. With that disclaimer, I offer a new beginning of Standing at the Door.
Last week, in two separate instances, I witnessed how grace may or may not be shown. The first came from the myriad of basketball fans who weighed in on the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers being defeated by the Minnesota something-or-others, and thereby allowing hometown favorite, Gonzaga University, an opportunity to take the No. one spot on the national polls. For those of you unaware, Gonzaga is considered a “mid-major” school, meaning that it is a small, regional institution that is not a part of any larger, “power” conferences. Suffice it to say, mid-major schools have quite the uphill battle (some of which is justifiable) when it comes to climbing the national rankings.
After the loss, I thought I would take a look at the ESPN chat boards to see what type of conversation was being generated around the loss and subsequent opportunity for Gonzaga. I should not have done so. The level of venom directed toward the program, the conference, and anyone excited at the Bulldog’s opportunity to rise in the rankings was lethal. I understand the arguments. I appreciate team loyalty. However, a spirit that expresses a need to pull others down in their moment of joy seems to miss the point of life, trading it for a petty justification of why one person (or his or her team, or his or her country, or his or her religion) is still better than another. Frankly, it seems crab-like (you know: how they pull one another down, preventing an escape attempt from some container in which they are trapped).
Less than an hour later, my sons were eating their after dinner treat. A “fruit by the foot.” If you are unfamiliar with this, think processed fruit snack run through a drum sander until it is about 3 feet long and the thickness of heavy bond legal paper (I’m pretty sure that due to its processing, it never gets digested, only evacuated, but I digress). We only had one to share and I split it in half for my two guys. My eldest, after taking a bite, paused and looked back at me, asking, “But wait, dad. You don’t have any.” I let him know (without the horror of how processed food would preserve his corpse longer than King Tut) that I was ok without any. But in his joy, he could not tolerate the thought that another person did not have the same opportunity to share in his happiness. He tore off a significant portion of his treat and offered it to me.
My 5-year old seemed to understand that joy is important; it is meant to be shared, to be celebrated. Others (including myself on occasion) seem to have lost that perspective, choosing instead to drag someone else’s happiness down to the level of their own frustration. I wonder why. I wonder how we let it get like this.