Thursday, July 8, 2010

God, Life and Everything - World Cup

I write a column called "God, Life, and Everything" for the Hudson Valley News. The title reflects the broad scope I want to take. Everything in life falls under the eye of God, and if we watch carefully, we can catch a glimpse of God in it all.

I’m sorry for not writing last week. I got so busy doing the work of the L-- Oh, who am I kidding? I was watching the World Cup.

I’m not one of the absolutely insane soccer aficionados, mind you, but I did coach kids soccer for seven years and learned to enjoy watching it.

Actually, what I used to coach resembled something that might best be called “Blob Ball.” All the little kids run together in a blob so they can kick the ball. The only child who maintains his or her position is the one who really doesn’t want to be there and runs away every time the ball nears him or her.

But when it’s played well, there is hardly a sport that is more fun to watch. And so, whenever I can, I sit down for part of a game. The other day I was at a home visit bringing communion to a parishioner. I confess, instead of talking about the Lord, we watched Germany play Ghana. I suppose you could count it as work because I was with a parishioner – and we did have communion ... at half time.

Since we don’t have television at our home, I have to catch a peek of whatever game I can whenever the opportunity presents itself. I’ve made too many trips to the pizza parlor this week so I could pick up the US games. I may never be able to look at pizza again after this month.

Now, you may ask, why all this fanaticism about a game? Fair question. Not sure I have an answer other than it is a spectacular show, and you never know what is going to happen. Just look at last week. Italy and France, the numbers 1 and 2 of the last World Cup are out. The US finished Group play at the top of its group. Japan advanced for the first time not on Asian soil.

I love the unpredictability of the game. It is so very much like life. Life, after all, has the big guys who always win (like Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Germany), but there’s just enough unpredictability to make you think anything is possible (Switzerland beat Spain!).

It helps you know that nothing is certain in this life, that you can’t expect anything, and that things are not always fair. Yes, hard work is important, but just as in life, playing by the rules and working hard does not guarantee anything (just ask the US team about its stolen goal against Slovenia).

Those inequities do not mean that life is ugly or only for a few elite. It means that there is beauty in all aspects of life, and that even when it is not fair or does not end up the way we want, life has its own inherent value.

Now, it’s always dangerous to compare life to a game. After all, this is not a game. You can’t practice for it. And life is not all about being a winner. It is an extended opportunity to love your neighbor as yourself.

Which may be another reason I love soccer so much. They have tie games.

Hope you enjoy watching – not for the winners and losers but for the beauty of the game itself.