But I also have been reviewing some past, epic 'competitions' as we prepare for the 50th year of Briarwood football and a podcast I have been working on.
Years ago- I was immersed in Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson and began writing a paraphrase of that work (and the poem, Odyssey, by Homer).
The story of Ulysses (Odysseus) has long been a source of inspiration and thought experimentation.... especially when living in the world of competition. The themes of competition, pride, success, failure, are rich and deep- including the warrior's desire for a name and the longing for home. I frequently paraphrase Tennyson when I think of new challenges and new seasons…. and the ultimate goal of any team.
It may be that foes may wear us down. It may be we shall wear championship crowns, And be like great champions past, whom we knew. Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven…..
that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made TIRED by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and NEVER to yield.
Those lines from Tennyson ring more true every year- Tennyson knows the longing to get to the battlefield and leave a mark....
I have been still too long now- you only think that rest, leisure, and escape will still the soul.
But already I am dreaming of where to go- I need a wall and a mountain in my path I no longer need anyone to applaud my glory or understand my motives.
It is precisely this line that explains why I don't plan on retiring anytime soon. And if I do retire, it will likely be to a new wall or new mountain.
My scars are all that must stay attached
I long to remember the important things forgotten in the fog of battles that few recall
It is a loss to know that everywhere I have been is now long behind me, but I carry parts of every stop ahead in me
I am weary from waiting and dull from peaceful sleep. I am rusting too early from a lack of activity Will I end my time in a furious panic of all undone? Little remains: but every hour is saved From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things; and vile it were For some three suns to store and hoard myself, And this gray spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
"Those who transgress boundaries in their all-consuming life search for knowledge, riches, power, and prowess will overreach themselves until their pact with the devil destroys them. " Os Guinness
Ulysses creates quite a tension and is one that I believe most men struggle with.
We are enthralled by and called to heroic narratives. Any honest evaluation of our ambitions and intentions can never disregard a desire to be the champion.
I remember as early as 1996 pleading with the Lord to allow us to be a football state champions. But my prayer was always... 'Lord, if You allow this please let me see that I still have my faith, my family, and my friends." And God was gracious and faithful, He did allow that experience in 1998, 1999, and 2003. And in each case, my faith, family, and fiends were still intact.
The hardest part is that if you truly are doing it well, there will be tension and misunderstanding on both sides.
He is not ever calling me to bask in self-indulgence and luxury. Yes, He gives me SO many opportunities to have fun, travel, fish - more than I deserve... but He does it only in spurts and commands that everything is done in His timing and under His authority. And, thankfully, I have learned that He is the best One to trust in regarding these things.