Posted tagged ‘darkness’

Wrestling with Spartan Loyalty

January 28, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             January 28, 2018

                                 

It’s been a tough week in Spartan Land! The Larry Nassar horror had been going on for a while. I wanted to believe that he was more connected to USA Gymnastics than Michigan State University.

You see, that’s a big part of my problem, and struggle. I don’t want to believe that anything can go wrong in Spartan Country.

Sports Information Director at the Air Force Academy, Troy Garnhart, told me of the Academy’s football game at Michigan State a couple of years ago. He was impressed by everything- the people, the facilities, but, most of all, the hospitality and genuineness of the coaches and players. That’s what I want to hear! It’s difficult to hear that the coin actually has another side to it.

I want to believe that about the other university about an hour southeast down the road. Anything that makes Jim Harbaugh want to puke…like a blocked punt on the final play of a football game…brings a smile to my face!

But this is Spartan Land, and I wouldn’t even want such a debacle to happen in Ann Arbor. One of sexual assault victims of Larry Nassar is the daughter of a man who was a part of the youth group I led back in the early eighties in Lansing. Her testimony personalized a story that became so immense that there was a danger of seeing so many victims- more than one hundred and fifty, but forgetting that each one of them endured pain and suffering.

As happens in our culture, the indiscretions of one becomes the fault of the many. We’re teetering on the edge of a moral ledge where things that have been kept hidden are raising their ugly heads. In recent months, more than usual, an incision into the heart of our society has revealed the darkness of how we live. In our talent for avoidance we usually shrug off the rumors, but, in this situation, the reality has tsunami’ed us. The Nassar crimes are like when you look at a wall and see a crack in the paint, but when you more closely investigate it you notice that the crack extends in all directions.

I want to still live in Spartan Land but the “Green and White” has become grey-ish! I want my heroes to stay standing on pedestals, but I’m afraid that the possibility of falling off is increasing daily.

And how far does the failure of responsibility ripple out? A university president and the athletic director have already retired/resigned. The entire board of USA Gymnastics joined the list of resignations. How many more will be found to have ignored the elephant in the room?

I’ll always root for the Spartans, but when I wear my Michigan State hoodie nowadays I’m reminded more of the damage that has been done to a multitude of lives than I am of Spartan victories.

A school that has been known for “Magic” has entered a new chapter that is entitled  “Tragic”!

Condolences and Companions

September 8, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           September 8, 2013

 

 

     Going through the loss of my mom has been a journey. It has allowed me to see the despair of Jesus in his Garden of Gethsemane darkness. He was utterly and completely alone. His disciples had eyelids heavier than a Sunday morning Baptist listening to a long-winded monotone preacher.

Jesus had no one. No shoulder to lean on, no one to embrace him. No one to pray with him or hold his hand.

And I now know in a very real way how difficult it would have been to go through an experience of loss by myself. The last few days of grieving and mourning has included a long list of journeying companions.

Let me tell you…the kitchen counter at Mom and Dad’s house has resembled a food buffet line without the sneeze guards! Fried chicken, lasagna, meat and cheese tray, veggie tray, vegetable beef soup, chicken casserole, chicken casserole #2, salad, potato salad, cole slaw, chip dip, potato casserole, peach cobbler, apple pie, chocolate cake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies…you get the picture? Food is a consoling agent! Somehow grief is made easier with a chicken leg in your hand.

And the flowers! People sent enough flowers to fill a nursery. Mom loved flowers. Dad’s yard is a picture of gardening excellence. Flowers are expression of love and concern that bring a hint of beauty to a gray moment of life.

At the visitation before Mom’s funeral service there were a multitude of people who kept streaming in to pay their respects. Everyone knew that Mom’s time had come. In fact, the past couple of years were almost like a second epilogue…one more extra that wasn’t needed. But still the people came to say farewell to Mom, and offer condolences to our family. Former neighbors, church folk, workmates, classmates, distant cousins, and people whose paths had crossed at some time with Mom and Dad. I saw my cousin, Annette, who I had not seen in a good forty years, and my cousins Michelle and Matthew that I wish I could have a week with.

Companions for the journey. Encouragers in the midst of discouraging times.

I’ve had people ask me during my years as a pastor “How do people make it through this who have no faith?” I’d revise that question and make it “how do people make it through this who have no faith or friends?” (Food is a bi-product of having friends!)

My best man, Dave Hughes, came by yesterday for a couple of hours. My former partner in ministry, Artie Powers, journeyed down from West Virginia to the visitation and funeral service. My church in Colorado Springs sent flowers. My good friend, Mike Fairchild, who lives outside of Rochester, New York now, and his brother, Mark, sent flowers.

Companions for the journey.

Which takes me back to Jesus! I can’t imagine walking this road alone. It makes his death walk seem even crueler…that there was no one there for him…and yet he continued. Instead of a shoulder to lean on he had a cross he had to bear.