Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tossing the Ball

On the spiritual page of the Catholic Times, the writer reflects on the words of a colleague who told him that volley ball can help in living a more spiritual life. There is a great deal that  sports can teach us on the way to live, and although the writer never had much interest in sports, he understood what his friend was saying after seeing a volley ball game on television.

Two teams are facing each other on the court. The tall players at the net are ready to spike the ball into the opposing team's court. His friend mentioned how at  first his eyes where on the tall men on the front line, close to the net. They were the point scorers but he soon became conscious of the players who were tossing the ball to those at the net to enable them to spike the ball. His priest friend said that it was some time before he began to realize what was happening on the court.

The second line is there to toss the ball to the tall players in just the right way, with the proper height and speed, to make an easy spike of the ball into the opposite court for a point.  The players on the  opposite court prepare themselves to block the ball, with all players involved in the effort to keep the ball in play. But especially important are the players on the second line, whose task is not only to keep the ball in play but to toss the ball up to the tall players at the net to make the points.

When the writer first heard his friend speak about how watching a volley ball game can deepen one's spiritual life, he had smiled. But after watching a game on TV, he understood what he was saying.  The front line players, those actually scoring the points, were dependent on the second line, who with their knowledge and team play were actually in control of the game.

He transferred the volley ball strategy to the parish, and saw that many Christians, who are not very visible on the 'front lines,' are helping others who are more visibly involved by 'tossing' them whatever is necessary to come closer to God. They are not the leaders but are doing  whatever is necessary for the leaders to their job well.

Once this fact is pointed out to us, it's easily understood but also easy to forget. It is not always those in the limelight who are the important players. In life, our columnist   wants us to remember, there are many unacknowledged players who are tossing the ball to others on the front line who are making a difference.


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