Friday, December 14, 2012

The Helmet and a Brotherhood

The personal helmet's pads and lining were raggedly ripped away from the interior and returned to school with a sticker in hopes it might slip past and get checked-in unnoticed. But my son saw it as he walked through the supply cage with Coach looking at each helmet for identifying marks, hopeful that maybe, just maybe, his missing helmet might have been returned this week. Instead, he was surprised to finally understand that he was not part of something bigger, not part of something stronger, not part of something intangible. He was now fully finished hanging high lofty hopes that this team was something akin to iron sharpening iron. Instead he heard the sad sounding thud an unknown teammate made when he clunked hollowly and fell to the bottom of the barrel.

I’m grasping deep inside of myself to hold onto a vetige of my own good nature, my own motherly wisdom, and my own honor over this. How easy to lash out. How wondrous to throw intelligence out the window and fly fickle with fury. How dangerously delicious to loose the barrage of words and point angriest finger and wish worse on this thief without a face. Instead I’m digging deeply into the darkness, feeling for the slippery chink of a handhold on forgiveness and another place to grasp strongly for a clearheaded attitude other than the one which dangles a toe over the line. It lands just above the deep grudge against an unknown young man who took, then shredded, his teammate’s personal $300 piece of equipment. It was not carelessly paid for, not devilishly flaunted, not cruelly cared less about. Instead it was thought about for weeks, it was considered, researched, decided upon suddenly when son suffered a concussion. Now my heart delves into, "You're done with kindness it doesn't pay. Drop the sideline photography!" it shouts, “Lock up the photo site with a password just for friends. Walk away. Hang it up.” Brain states unequivocally, “Take care of son’s memories and worry not a thing for any other man's past athletic team experiences... Basic respect...basic integrity were all thrown in his face.” And I want so badly to claw it all back into their huddle so they can see it, feel it, hear it, taste it.

And the thing is, I don’t believe in anything like wishing ill will. I don’t believe in the idea that if a young man does wrong, life will pay him back down the road in locusts and frogs and torrents of horribleness. Though I may wish it and I may want it in all my red hot disappointment. But I believe in something more intensely opposite. That blessings will follow a man through his life if he strives to live it with honor and with dedication and with truthful heart in the likeness of his Maker. Mostly because he is himself preparing the very road that he himself will walk down one day. It begins at his very core and continues to resonate out till others around him know what he’s made of by the character he exudes. He is a worthy man- ever dedicated, ever relentless in his pursuit of conscience. And I believe in something bigger and even more courageous than simplistic: the ability to choose right over wrong. The ability to truly decipher the need to step up to something because it’s either a life changing moment or it’s wasted as another dank drop in the bucket, more of the same old sad stuff that gets a man nowhere down the rutted road.

Thank you for returning the helmet at all. Someday, come and see me. Or him, my son. And unload the burden. Until then, I’m left wondering: Where is your goodness? Where is your soul? We’re built in His image and yet you’re but a shadow of a man, flitting here and there, hiding in the darkness. You may pretend to be one who is solid and tough and tested on the outside, but you’re tired and shrunken and dried out on the inside. Teams don’t win championships with a brotherhood built out of dusty bone-dry sandbags. Teams win championships on solid rock granite brotherhoods. The kind of brotherhood you can hang your whole life onto and share for even longer.

The helmet certainly met nothing to you. To me, to him, it signified what would have been. What chould have been. What should have been.

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