by Father Mark Goldasich
Welcome to another blue October in Kansas City! Unlike the past two, however, when the region came together to cheer on the Royals in the playoffs and World Series, the “blue” this October refers to our need to cheer up one another now that our 2016 baseball season is over.
The last two seasons spoiled us. In fact, it looked like we might be building a baseball dynasty for the next few years, but it was not to be. And it doesn’t help to put your trust in the other professional sports teams in Kansas City either. SportingKC was spanked 3-1 by the New England Revolution on Saturday night, and the Chiefs — well, let’s just say their Sunday night 43-14 shellacking by the Pittsburg Steelers doesn’t make you brim with optimism.
But why all of this talk of sports? Heck, I was looking to sports for a little escape, a respite from the feeling of being overwhelmed. Even though this month of October has barely started, it’s already been a crazy whirlwind of activity for me . . . and it shows no signs of slowing down.
This past weekend showed me that I couldn’t trust sports to soothe me. I also know that I can’t trust food and drink nor TV and movies to do the trick. Is there, then, any place I can trust to provide some relief?
In answer, the Cherokees might direct me to this story.
When a young Cherokee boy reaches a particular age, he’s required to go through a rite of passage. A father will take his son into the forest, blindfold him and then leave him alone.
The boy must sit on a stump for the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He can’t cry out for help to anyone, nor can he tell other boys about this experience, because each one must come into manhood on his own.
Once the youth survives the night, though, he is a man.
On one occasion, a father led his boy to the forest, blindfolded him and sat him on a stump. Naturally, the kid was terrified. He heard all kinds of forest noises. Wild beasts, he imagined, must be all around him. There could even be human predators there, waiting to harm him. During the night, the boy felt the wind blowing the grass and shaking the stump he sat upon.
To his credit, the boy bravely sat still, never removing the blindfold. He knew this was the only way he could become a man.
Finally, after the horrible night, the sun warmed the boy’s face and he took off his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father seated on a stump not far from him. His dad had been at watch the entire night, making sure that his son was protected from any danger. (Adapted from a story found on the internet.)
The only place that we can honestly and confidently put our trust is in the Father. Even when we undergo the terrors of the night — a packed schedule, sick kids, a scary medical diagnosis, a demanding job, a faltering marriage or friendship, depression, unrelenting demands, spiritual “blues,” or any of a host of other troubling issues — God, like the Cherokee father in the story, is right there taking care of us . . . even though we may not sense his presence.
When I’m feeling battered on every side, it’s sometimes tough to remember to trust God. My default prayer at those times comes from Thomas Merton in his “Thoughts in Solitude”: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. . . . I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
I trust you can say along with me, “Amen!”