Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Our Lady of the Links

I never expected to golf. It has always seemed like a sport that’s for, well, other people. My husband, though, expressed an interest a few years ago, found a used set of clubs, and began going to the driving range and the less expensive golf courses with his brothers.

Over the course of a year or two, I started to get curious. When our oldest daughter was toddler-aged, I started to also long for more time with him. When our second daughter was born, I started to plot and plan ways to spend afternoons together.

Enter my conversion to the world of golfing.

We’re both outside people, though hiking isn’t something we generally enjoy together. (He insists I set out to attack the trail; I maintain that he could walk faster since he has much longer legs than I do.) After I officially owned a set of very cheap golf clubs, I became Bob’s golf partner.

We’re at about the same level of expertise, somewhere between stink and laughable. When we get a few hours to golf, we’ll go to a local driving range or to the par 3 kiddie course down the road from his mom’s house, where we leave the kids.

I’ve heard people rave and rant about the game of golf. I used to make fun of it myself, but now that I understand it a tiny bit better, I am downright mocking...of myself. There’s nothing to instill humility in my day like the fourth hole. There’s nothing to inspire me to listen to the amazing man I married like the silence of the course. There’s nothing to make me rejoice like one of us beating par.

Humility, listening, and rejoicing are things I experience regularly during Mass, in church, at prayer. But it’s when the holy is inserted into the everyday that I find myself transformed a bit.

In that transformation, in that shift that’s a piece in my ongoing conversion, I am nudged closer to my Mother’s arms. She’s out there with me on the golf course, patting me on the back when I hold my tongue from the word that almost slipped out, inspiring me to look past my failure and to joke about the “net profit” of golf balls found versus lost.

Our priest, who’s an avid golfer, often tells us, before he leaves the office, that he’s going to “pray the 18 stations.” I used to laugh about that. I still laugh, but I understand it more now.

There’s praying to be done wherever we are, and the true gift is in opening ourselves to the grace to experience it, to let go of our agenda and give in to God’s.