I suppose I should tip my cap to the Oregon Ducks, but my heart’s not in it.
You see, the Ducks put a whuppin’ on my beloved Saint Louis University Billikens last night, denying SLU its first-ever trip to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA basketball tourney.
After watching the Bills crash-and-burn, I think I’m developing a deeper appreciation for why they call it ‘March Madness’. I was mad as H-E-double-toothpicks as I watched the game unfold. Gone was the extraordinary cohesiveness and heads-up play I witnessed a week ago, as the Bills were putting the finishing touches on their double championship in the A-10 conference.
My boys looked like world-beaters then: Able to take a worthy opponent’s best shot, and still come out on top. Last night, in contrast, SLU crumpled like a cheap suit.
So yeah: Hosanna, Ducks. Yippee-ki-yay.
And my, how quickly things can change.
Honestly, I wish I didn’t have to blog on Palm Sunday about the brutal finish to SLU’s season. I don’t need the reminder about how empty ‘Hosannas’ can be.
Or perhaps I do.
Perhaps this is the perfect time for me to contemplate the model that Jesus gives us at the beginning of Holy Week.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the Master is an active participant in the scenario that leads up to his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Jesus sends two disciples to fetch him a colt. He makes a conscious choice to mount up, an action that prompts the accolades of the crowd. And just as consciously, Jesus embraces the journey to the cross as the week progresses.
It’s almost as if Jesus wants to make sure that we see the contrast here. He wants to make sure that we are prepared for what lies ahead, all of it. Sure, there will be joys and successes – maybe lots of them. But tough times are part of the deal, too. And so we need to keep our eyes on the prize.
Ronald Rolheiser puts it this way:
…what we need when we are in a ‘dark night’ isn’t the well- intentioned sympathy of a friend who wants to rescue us from the pain, but the wisdom of the mystics who tell us: When you lose your securities, when you find yourself in an emotional and spiritual free-fall, when you are in the belly of the whale, let go, detach yourself, let the pain carry you to where it needs to take you, don’t resist, rather weep, wail, cry, and put your mouth to the dust, and wait. Just wait. You are like a baby being weaned from its mother’s breast and forced to learn a new way of nourishing yourself. Anything you do to stop what’s happening will only delay the inevitable, the pain that must be gone through in order come to a new maturity.
So enjoy the ride, Ducks. But take it from a chastened Billken fan: It’s probably best if you don’t get too comfortable.
I get it. Thanks.