Sunday, April 10, 2011

in their light

one of the big tournment days of the season
two schools come from St. Louis and Bryan's team
they meet on the courts
here in Columbia
and duel-it-out

there are so many dimensions of what takes place
so many personal memories flood back
so much I would not choose to miss by blinking even for a second
the sun shone its light and reddened the white ones amongst us
the spotlight caught so much heart being played out
armed with courage
a racket
and this ferocious commitment to play their best
with and for each other
the dignity of it all

I found myself overwhelmed watching them
fight through
win some lose some
win more than they even realize
at times when a loss feels so oppressive

their smiles laughter pain when injured
their caring for their friends - how they did, but more importantly:
how they are
right there in the sweat and heat of it all
with ice on one Daniel's ankle
with amazement at the endurance of the other Daniel's epic match
that ended with a very close loss
but the gain of respect that won him so much

I witnessed compassion and togetherness
rising to the occasion and selfless thinking
that was as mature as a perfect blossom
as sweet as the perfect fruit
and as strong as a force of nature
the kind of naturalness as the coming of Spring after seemingly
endless winter

the parents were so THERE for all of our (no longer boys) (young) men
we will clean the courts for them
clean out the shed, sweep away mouse "deposits"
make sure they have the food water ice rest pillow sunblock applied
and be there as completely in the moment as we can be

and then (hopefully) step back enough
to let them

we all carry countless stories silently inside as we gather and share
listen applaud and most importantly watch our men play their points
back and forth
a little fuzzy ball being played
back and forth
in the air
smashed to the ground
skimming the net
over the fence
that certain elegance of a beautiful point
the agony of losing it
that weird sensation when you shank it out into the universe
one moment in suspended embarrassment to turn that around
in lightning speed the next
the joy of grabbing it out of the air
and wailing at it
the intense relief of avoiding it when it is wailed at you
using your racket with skill
ratcheting up that level every time you put yourself out there
using every part of your mind and body
putting it all into serious effort that goes beyond "play"
and enters the arena of growth...

my favorite scene is the beauty of being "in this together"
it happens in doubles play
it happens when you look across to the next court and care
so deeply for your teammate and say words of enouragement
meant for that one person
and rippling to all who are privileged to hear
to be part of an intimate moment
played out on the open court of life

when you get word that shoots around the courts like a grass fire
that one of your team mates is injured
that one has won
that the team has just secured the big win
or your score will tip the balance
if the news in that wildfire is that the team has suffered defeat
do you find it in your disappointed tired self to keep giving it
everything you have left
and when you are able to accomplish that
does the self-respect and cheers of your fellow players
hearten you?...

the thrill of sweat rolling off your tired body
finding within yourself the will to keep going
the strength to toss that ball up over your head one more time
to feel as if your arms and legs are going to become detached from you
all rubbery or tense or red or cramped or in pain exhausted
and then you rise to the occasion in loyalty to your
gaining strength from their collective internal desire
that goes lightyears beyond simply endurance
or personal glory

to learn from observation is not to touch their level of excellence
yet it is to be honored
to call them
our children
on this glorious road becoming

great human beings
being human
in all its magnificence
in all its gentleness
in all its lovely loving loveliness
smiling through grimacing

making the sunshine dim
when one gazes upon
the light

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