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Toward Wholeness Blog

Of Goalies and Sermons: the mystery and challenge of presence…

This weekend was filled with events that have left me pondering that “being fully present” is actually a lot harder than it appears. I’ve heard it said that “showing up” is 80% of the battle with any endeavor, but soccer, hockey, and preaching, have all shown me that showing up requires more than just showing up.

Our local Sounders played soccer on Saturday, but “played” would be too polite of a term.  They were physically present, but their performance was stunk the stadium up so bad that the team apologized and offered a refund to season ticket holders who renew next year.  They were there, but they just weren’t there.


On Friday night, as I was putting the finishing touches on a book manuscript (the book will be out about a year from now, more later), I was listening to the Canucks hockey game on the radio, and the biased (in favor of the Canadian “Canucks”) commentators said, “this team is just playing terrible – it’s as if they’re not really all here”. I’d written them off, as their loss put them down 3-1 heading back to Chicago, but when I arrived home from the evening worship service last night, I watched the final few minutes of the game where, on the road, the Canadian team utterly dominated.  Other than the number on the jersey, you have thought that they had a different goalie; brilliant and timely saves.  Throw in smothering defense, relentless offense, and we’re going to game 6 tomorrow night.

And then there’s preaching.  I felt like I hit a home run yesterday morning at 9AM.  It felt a little bit less at 11.  Then I was taking a ‘short nap’ in the afternoon, and woke up too late, slept too long.  The evening teaching felt forced, tired, uninspired.  Same notes as the morning, and I was certainly there, just like the goalie was there Friday night and Sunday night – but different was enormous.


I’m learning that showing up means more than showing up.  Showing up means being fully present, means bringing the very best that you can bring to the moments when the very best is required of you.  Increasingly, I’m convinced that this doesn’t happen by accident.  We can’t bring our “A” game to every moment – 24/7.  We need to learn rest, to learn how to relax, to have recovery time so that when we need to preach at our best, or be the best goalie possible, we’re all there.

Perhaps this means that the disciplines of rest and recovery are as vital as the disciplines of performance.  We shoot people, and we shoot ourselves, for not bringing our “A” game all the time.  Maybe we need to start examining how we spend our down time. Endless activities, and a full serving of “Glee”, “Modern Family” and “SNL” might not be the best way to fill our tanks.  We might need a little silence, a little solitude, and little time in creation, not to mention some healthy food.

I welcome your thoughts…

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