How basketball made me miss Jesus

Recently I was at a natural food store with three friends of the yogic sort, one of whom is an Episcopal priest. This mix has huge happy hour discourse potential. Alas it is a working lunch and therefore dry.  I found myself curious about the spiritual path of the priest in particular because without the collar I might have expected  layers of mala beads.

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I typically find others’ stories much more intriguing than my own so I was flummoxed when the question boomeranged. A seeker raised Catholic, I found myself saying I was a ‘non-practicing Catholic’.  Whaaaaat? The things I love: the incense, the ritual, the quiet reverence to the great mysteries. The structure. The guilt.  I was addicted to it all. And I had the best example possible in the most elegant and wise of practicing Catholics, my mother.  For all that has been revealed that is wrong with the Catholic Church, my mother was right.  Gone far too long and much too soon, my mother is my angel, my muse, my best friend, my example, the bar and arms I seek.

How could I have SAID that?

But it’s true.  I haven’t been to Mass much in the last many months.  This Ironman Texas (April 27) training and the sleeping habits  of my millennial children make me weary of Sunday morning church fights in my home.  Lame.

And then there’s Tony Bennett, head basketball Coach for the Virginia Cavaliers.  He is in Minneapolis in virgin (for him) Final Four territory and gives credit where credit is due. To his blessings, the many blessings in life, indeed to his Jesus.  He says is faith in Christ is the ‘greatest truth’ he knows.  And he’s the darling of basketball, especially this weekend. No dirty tricks, no questionable recruiting tactics, Clorox white, humble to the core and I want some of that pie. I used to visit that bakery regularly.

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Maybe, just maybe my Mass just looks a little different now.  It is on a bike for 80 or 100 miles with my favorite people racing for a cause I never wanted but couldn’t live without. Maybe my Jesus is in the quiet of my heart as I beg for sleep or in the search and  find for the will to take one more step toward that finish line or the lift of my arms as reach out to hug my sister. My Jesus is near. I just haven’t been to his house in a minute. He is in my house.  In the brick one and the visceral one. And I know I practice a lot.  Yoga and triathlon and love. I just miss Tony Bennett’s out loud Jesus. Maybe mine is just a little more quiet for now.

I won’t be quiet when Virginia takes on Auburn.  Jesus, take the ball!

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Messin’ with Texas

In August of 1993 I traveled to Irving, Texas to visit one of my college roommates – a darling of the rolling hills of Roanoke, Virginia hailing from Harrisonburg – home of my beloved JMU Dukes.  Roya took me to the Stockyards in Fort Worth, a Dallas Cowboys pre-season game in their (then) new stadium, introduced me to restaurants galore, and is responsible for my previously rejected now unbreakable addiction to guacamole.  We enjoyed cold beer (have you ever been to Texas in the summer – hot so hot) and while listening to great music we were mesmerized by this big, beautiful world into which we were catapulted just a few years before.

In 1990 we had matriculated from James Madison University completely wide-eyed and (a little) wild for life ahead.  My Roya and I spent many a early morning in our rambling off campus abode contemplating life over tea (me) and coffee (her).  The sounds of the Today Show with Katie Couric’s Virginia roots inspired conversation of the big lives we had before us. When Roya saw an opportunity to move west to Texas she said ‘yes’.  She currently is on a quest to keep inspiring ‘yes’ from our precious group of Dukes.  And it’s working.

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Roya, in the middle under the ‘armpit’ made us stop and pose for a selfie during a recent reunion trip to Florida.  We said yes.

Since her ‘Yes Quest’ some of us have (among other things): started or restarted a yoga practice, made plans to see the Gin Blossoms, enrolled in a Body Combat Sculpting Class, traveled to Whistler for skiing, continued to be badasses at work, and started the essential contemplation of ‘what’s next?’, and ‘what do you want and need to do?’, ‘how will you get there?’

I am currently training for Ironman Texas. A plan already in the works, there is a precious spot (for me) where (before the plane tickets are purchased) one can NOT say yes to Texas (or any Ironman) and enjoy some fitness for a bit because training has certainly kinda begun.  The tickets are bought and the proverbial hay is making its way to the barn.  I am messing with Texas where everything is bigger – like the life I have because I know and love my Texas Roya. She is adventurous, crazy/scary smart, gets up before the Longhorns and sees life as a gift to be lived.  Her heart is bigger than Texas and I am inspired by her to say Yes everywhere I can.  Thank you, my dude!

So on April 29 and beyond, when I am asked if I am glad I messed with (Ironman) Texas, what do you thing the answer will be?

Let the Adventures Begin

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My 2018 Gift of Gifts

In 2018 I turned 50.  I experienced loss and much love and made a solid commitment to say ‘yes’.  Now the charge is to follow through and become who I always have been and unapologetically do all the things to set the table for the grand feast which is: The Second Half, Part Deux, post intermission showing-stopping, color popping, hip-hopping ‘talk-to-me-baby’, don’t stopping moments rich with NOW. And guess who made me do it?

Not a prolific writer (and I love many).  Not an endurance athlete extraordinaire (I know many). Not a half-famous, passion-stirring goose-bump making guest on an addictive podcast about yoga, meditation, the resilience of the human spirit or the nectar of human story. (I have a constant diet of tons).

It was her:

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My youngest.  We share a birthday and dreams of travel.  She gave me the above journal along with a note I will cherish for all of my remaining days. In it she details her own desire to travel, adventure, be kind, compassionate and accepting WITH ME. I just love her heart.  It is relevant to note the journal is a re-gift (Jane does not have a job and therefore $ to purchase gifts).  She received it from her mother’s best friend a couple of years ago with a note encouraging her to travel and live life and…. and in a circle of trust and with great serendipity I am the receiver of that precious gift through my baby girl.

And may we all have such a gift.  Permission.  The gift of being okay right where we are so we can experience all that ‘is’.  Near and far.  For me it is through travel and writing and endurance sports and yoga and mediation and learning and spreading love and acceptance through my work.

Jane and I got an early start on finding honey close to home.  Not far in miles, but worlds away, we spent a night at a ski resort.  Together.  We visualized Virginia as Versailles.

 

We didn’t even ski.  But it was perfect.  Fresh air and fresh croissants with brie (the wine is mine) does the mind good in a moment of buttery surrender to Now.  We watched movies, had dinner with friends and bought handmade leather purses from a street artisan. Bliss.  And no $ on air fare. That is to come.  All in sweet time.

Welcome to now.  Welcome to 2019.

Thank you joy and sorrow.

Thank you Jane and Thank you Journal.

Guide me.  Heal me.

Take me away and drop me back right here, right Now.

Now, let’s have some fun!  Salut!