With the weather giving us notice that spring is on its way for several weeks now, the sports world is now reminding us the time of year. A majority of the staff at Lakeshore are avid sports fans, and our calendar is probably governed as much by our favorite teams as it is by the sun and moon. Spring Training began in baseball this week, so the baseball fans in the office finally have something more to talk about than the minor league trade that went through for a Rule-5 draft pick and other things we don’t really understand. Now, you can watch your favorite team put on that fresh-starched uniform and take the field–even if it is only 2 innings before the ones you know get pulled for the minor leaguers and non roster invitees fighting for the last few positions on the roster. Baseball certainly isn’t at it’s most excited, but it is beginning to show signs of a pulse, and that is enough at this point for the avid fan.
The conference tournaments have begun for College Basketball, as well. So, now you’re hoping your team gets a high seed, somehow sneaks in to the tournament, though they don’t deserve it, or you’re checking out which uniform color scheme or mascot you like the best for your picks this year. For that first part of the week, when March Madness begins, we become the closest we get to European countries who take the day off during the World Cup. We may show up to work, but we are not getting much done. There are 8 basketball games on at once. How could you work knowing that?
We had a strong rain come on Thursday–that kind of rain you associate with Spring. It began at daybreak, and just kept on and kept on throughout the day. It would ease up and almost quit for a time, but then you could see darker clouds in the distance approaching. Then the sky would unload again. Out the window, you began to see puddles forming in very odd places. All over, the ground soaked up all it could, and there was no other place to put the water but pools on the flat earth. The river is up a good bit from where it was before the rain. There is a strip of muddy, light-brown water near the shore that must have been stirred up by the river rising so quickly. This will happen several times in the Spring, but we are just in the first full week of March. The last two years, we’ve had incredibly high flood waters. Is this rain a foreshadowing of a third year? It’s the thought you can’t help but have pop into your head when you get rain like this, this early.
Around the office, another big event has taken place to stir everyone up–Girl Scout Cookies. This is one of those ways that we can feel a little bit better about our bad habits. If you bought 3 boxes of Oreos, 4 Chips-Ahoy, 2 Grasshoppers, 2 EL Fudges, and a box of ‘Nilla Wafers, you would run into your house, under cover, leave the lights off and gorge away from a window, ashamed of what you’re doing to your body. But, if those cookies are called Samoas, Do-si-Dos, Tagalong, or (pause so I can salivate) Thin Mints, you are doing your part to help a good cause. The Girl Scout cookies have been circulating, but with the idea of Lent in my mind, I’m trying to cut back on indulgences. And, for me, cookies are my worst. It is not unusual on chocolate chip cookie day for me to woof down 10 or so cookies in one sitting. Alas, I have turned down many offers of girl scout cookies from office staff these past two weeks, while untouched boxes sit in my cabinet at home.
But, that’s part of what Lent does to you–it brings you in closer contact to your humanly desires. I am certainly well aware that I often want cookies, but I don’t consider how often I make the decision to pop a handful, rapid fire until it just becomes ridiculous. How many other things do I just consume without time to reflect on what a blessing they are in my life? How rarely do I realize how weak I am, and much weaker I would be without many of these blessings. And, how often do I forget how many other people in the world suffer with no choice under far worse conditions? Maybe I should spend a month or so in prayer and reflection about this. Maybe I should go without every now and then to realize how blessed I truly am, to know I do not need so many luxuries, and use that excess to do the work God calls me to. Oh yeah, that’s Lent.
One evening, I was staying late at the office, getting together some ropes course items for our wish list. The office was dark except the light in my room. I was just about to shut down my computer when I heard someone come in the office. Soon after I heard a vaguely familiar voice say, “Troy?” I answered and quickly discovered that an old friend, Helen Stubblefield, was paying me a surprise visit. I went to camp with Helen as a teenager and counseled with her throughout college. She is currently living in New York state, but was back in Memphis for a funeral. While making the long trip back North, on a whim, she turned off at exit 126 to pay Lakeshore a visit. It was great to see such a face from the past, and I felt lucky that I had stayed late at the office. Later this week, another old friend of the camp, Josh Brown, came from Missouri to let Gary and Vickie meet his new fiancee. It was like old times, when Josh used to come visit the office nearly ever day to distract you with conversation on sports and obscure movie/TV references.
Yes, Spring will be here in earnest soon. Sometimes the waiting for things can be the most frustrating. We are not always built as patient people. Spring Training will get boring very soon. My team will lose in the second round of the tournament, my bracket will prove very wrong, or I may be disgusted by the teams that end up in the finals. The rain might come in droves to the point that the water covers a quarter of our main camp. Who knows? The whinier versions of ourselves may get impatient, even feel sorry for ourselves about constantly waiting and wondering. It does us some good sometimes to have to wait, though. It helps us realize how good the good is. And, sometimes we get surprised by something we didn’t even ask for.
This weekend we have a Conference-wide Youth Retreat and Alpha Sigma Phi of Murray State. Be in prayer for their time here, and may this Lenten season and this Spring season bring change and growth in us.