Today’s find: Court awareness
My beloved Saint Louis University Billikens won a big game last night—and I had the chance to be among those in the sell-out crowd, thanks to the generosity of one of my best friends in life. As it happens, his seats are directly behind the visiting team’s bench. Most games, that doesn’t matter much…because few of the “away” teams who play the Billikens ever muster much of a crowd.
Last night’s opponent, though, brought a sizeable contingent—several hundred VCU fans, clad in black…and seated right next to us in Section 116. In the basketball scheme-of-things, this game really mattered to them and to us—because at least for now, first place was at stake. And as the game wore on, I was struck by something kind of intriguing.
As we looked out onto the court, the two sets of fans were seeing the exact same events transpire. One group, clad in Billiken blue, often rose to their feet, stamping, clapping, cheering in delight. In contrast, the other group seemed positively morose: their daubers down, their spirits crushed, by a performance that fell well below their expectations.
That got me thinking about how much our perspectives can influence our experience of a particular event or encounter. We set our standards…adjust our vision to look for a specific outcome… and in the process, become less able to see.
I wonder if this sort of myopia is what Jesus had in mind when, in today’s Gospel reading (Luke 11: 29-32), he admonishes the crowd not to look for “signs.” He understands our human nature, and how we’re likely to be drawn to the regal splendor of a King Solomon…or perhaps to dramatic gestures of penance and self-mortification like the people of Nineveh. Don’t let your vision become so narrow, he seems to say, because “there is something greater than Solomon here”—in the person of Christ, in the example of his selfless love and in his gentle touch of forgiveness.
If Jesus had been a basketball coach, I suspect he would have emphasized court awareness. He would encourage us to see our little corner of the world with fresh eyes. He’d want us to examine our expectations, and perhaps challenge our disappointments. But mostly, he’d want us to understand how important it is that we work together, to make his kingdom come.