Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Reflections of a non-golfer
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the Oct. 4, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)
Besides being entertaining and instructive, watching a golf tournament can also provide opportunity for gaining insight into Christ’s spirituality. Now, how’s that for a frameable note on the clubhouse wall!
Taking a lead from Jesus himself – who was a master at moving people from their ordinary experiences to a deeper spiritual consciousness – a golfer’s intensity of play is a living parable about God’s special relationship with us. Golfers spend far more time eyeing the ball, sizing up distances and calculating land contours than they do in actual play. It only takes a moment to smack the little white ball, but oh, all the preparation that goes into that whack!
A non-golfer myself, I enjoy watching the antics that go into preparing to swing. None is more colorful than the selection of just the right iron for each hole. After spending an eternity assessing the situation, the golfer makes great fuss over which iron to select for a certain desired result. Taken from the bag for especially demanding shots may well be that iron which the golfer has polished and re-polished until the early hours of the morning. It is obvious to the onlooker that there is a special “love” relationship between golfers and their clubs. Such great care is taken of the equipment. There is even manifest a certain possessiveness – few golfers will lend their clubs to another. I know one golfer who even has special pet names for his clubs. His number seven iron is his favorite and, yes, it is the most polished in the bag. He uses it frequently for difficult short shots.
It might seem a bit secularizing to apply principles of Christian spirituality to such a popular and common game as golf. The lessons are evident, all the same. Such a comparison might make the time spent on the golf course by readers of this column more spiritually rewarding. They can even enter into deep meditation as they play the game, without giving a clue to their competitors!
The people of God are not carried about in a bag, grant you, but we are indeed a special collection of very dear people. Different in size, shape and personality, we each have a distinct character. When engaged in the dynamics of Christian living, we each have a unique impact on the people and situations we encounter. In similar fashion, each of us is special in the eyes of God. Centuries of salvation history have prepared the moment for our appearance in the game of life. From time eternal and from the intimate formation in our mother’s womb, we have been selected and prepared by God for our individual role in the Lord’s plan of salvation for all humanity.
God takes special care of us, polishing us unto perfection. Bringing out our gleam sometimes takes a bit of corrective rubbing, or even abrasion; other times, just a gentle, loving breath. Frequently we might find ourselves worrying about what the purpose of our existence is to be. At such times we are tempted to compare ourselves with others, defining our own existence and purpose by who we are and not what we have not accomplished. We forget our uniqueness and the certain, undeniable fact that God does have a specific plan and purpose for our existence. Yours. Mine.
Christian spirituality calls us to be instruments in the hand of the Master Golfer, who knows full well the aim of the game. Patience is required, and much understanding and insight into the happenings around us. Not one of us is neglected, even if we are only aware of being called on every once in a while, or just for that special, demanding shot.
(Father Savelesky is pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane.)