Monday, March 29, 2010
A game of interdependence
Last week I returned to the United States after a week with my brother and his family in Edmonton, Alberta. I always enjoy a trip to Canada. Though many American creature comforts cover the landscape, some distinctly Canadian features offer some alternative perspective to American cultural hegemony and worldview. I value perspective as a theologian and in my life in general; I sharpen my critical thinking skills when forced to look at something in a different way.
I remember as a child watching the CBC on Seattle cable television, my only source for ice hockey and curling. Though my enjoyment of these sports never reached the level of baseball, college football or basketball--I would choose watching curling or ice hockey over golf or auto racing if given a choice.
During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, I heard or read more than one American say that if they set their mind to it, they could become an Olympic-caliber curler. It's just shuffleboard on ice, so the critique goes. Though curling does not require world-class physical condition or athletic ability, I found my baseball sensibilities awakened by the interdependence, skill and agility involved. Curling requires a different set of gifts to compete at a level of excellence. Yet curling is accessible enough that one can participate and enjoy at any skill level, like golf or bowling. If a different set of gifts is required beyond mainstream activities, the activity is devalued: "it's just shuffleboard on ice." After two hours of curling at the University of Alberta curling rinks (picture above), I was sore from sweeping and in admiration of the agility required in throwing and sweeping.
My primary interest in curling is the interdependence--inspiring thoughts about team work and life in the Church. Even as a newcomer, my team still depended upon my contribution. My success was celebrated, I learned during several teaching moments, and my abilities were challenged. I learned a new sporting lexicon (skip, house, hammer, button, etc). All was shared with grace. This shared grace and challenge is what I hope for in the communities of faith in which I serve.
(If you're wondering about my success, I scored a double take-out on my third throw. That's not two take-out orders of poutine, but I knocked out two opponent rocks on one throw. Those granite rocks are HEAVY.)