A Peculiar Brand of Holiness

comments 22
Christ / Course Ideas

To the spotlight operator, it’s just another night.  Another show.  Another transient gathering of pinstripe suits, twinkling diamonds, and feathered boas.  They come in from all over the world, glittering and polished, to stand time still for a flickering hour, to bask in the unknown and the unpredictable, to say they were there, to hobnob beneath the halogens.  For a brief moment, nothing else will matter, as everyone’s power is handed in to the performance, all the chips put in play, and then in a flash it will end.

The pageantry can only hide the steady progression of time’s river for so long.  Like a white hot finale of fireworks, the brilliance will fade and drift through the empty sky of awareness, dissolving first into a puff of smoke, and then into the night itself.  Silence will tuck it away for safe-keeping.  Then, with alarming efficiency, what never was will be torn down and packed up, crated and shipped.  The hall will be emptied.  The stage will be cleared.  The detritus of drink containers and snack boxes will be collected and crushed.

She’ll be long gone by then, the spotlight operator.  As the fork trucks rumble to life in the hall, she’ll rise from her bed and too little sleep, and slip quietly down the hall to cook her son breakfast.

* * * * *

I haven’t written much about sport on this blog, but I think like anything, it’s what’s alive within the experience that matters– not how it’s dressed up for presentation.  When I flopped on the sofa last night after a brief, end-of-week jog to vegetate for an hour, I happened upon a preview of tonight’s Floyd and Manny Show.  When it was over, I realized somewhere along the way tears had come to pool in my eyes.

And for what…

I remembered that back when I started this blog, when I was taking my first timid steps into expressing myself in an open forum, I wrote a description of myself on the “registry” for a Course of Love—which I think has since been taken off-line– that was based on the image of Jesus as my trainer, whispering in my ear while I worked the bag, while I sweat out the toxins of my bitterness, my false starts and my conceptual selves.  There’s a power in that image for me.  There’s the devotion of Jesus, his carrying the knowing of a certain outcome, his drawing it forth through the purity of his presence, unwilling to settle for anything less than truth, and then there’s the power of inner strength becoming mobilized through action.  Through willingness.  Through stepping into the gym of life each morning and surrendering to its unerring discipline.

I don’t know squat about boxing, but I could see the way Manny’s trainer, suiting up each morning to tutor his pupil despite the looming challenges of Parkinson’s, was an act of Love.  The way Manny returned it with his own devotion.  The way fist hit fist, glove hit glove– pop, pop, pop!— in a ritual that was thousands and thousands of days in the making for those two.  The way they met there, at the center between them, giving themselves wholly to the pure process neither could make on his own.  The way they hovered around something wordless and elusive.  I could see the way we build each other up with our relatedness, and our recognition.

There’s also something hidden deep inside the meeting of two personas in the ring– an intimacy I can’t explain but of which I caught a whiff.  The vulnerability of putting it all on the line, of being known, of each heart being drawn out by the other.  Of witnessing the familiar through difference.  This may seem a romantic notion, and it obviously is, but I like to think the fight tonight is but a few hours in a vast trajectory.  The questions it will ask of each man will burrow into them and steep for years to come.  Each will be changed by each.  Forever.  Boxing is ultimately but one of an infinitely arrayed modes of expression, an avenue for discovery and relationship.  Our lives are not made in the brightly lit moments, but in the thousands of days in the gym, before and after, where we encounter the fullness of our own hearts when no one else is looking.

The fight tonight is just sport.  Nothing to get overly excited about, but perhaps an analog to the challenges of our own days and lives.  It’s not a question for me about who will win.  From the outside looking in, I can see it’s a journey towards revelation, it’s an encounter, a strange relatedness.  There’s room in the peculiar brand of holiness with which I trade to see– right now– that Floyd possesses the heart of a man who could change the world.  We’re all far greater than anyone we’ve ever been.  There’s room for grace to find any being in any place and time.  For eternity to tell its story through any and every available medium.

And it will.

For devotion and holiness are all there is.

22 Comments

  1. Growing up with a Father who would watch Cassius Clay ( Muhammad Ali ) fight along with Joe Frazier.. I watched my fare share of boxing in the ring.. But as I got older, while I know its sport.. I now find I can not watch boxing.. But fully admire those whose profession it is..
    May the best man win..

    Sue

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can certainly respect that, Sue. I hoped this wouldn’t be too controversial a topic, but I like sometimes to think about or reframe commonly accepted notions within a larger context. I like to think that in the spirit of competition, the best man within each man has the opportunity to be revealed… 🙂

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes and your topic was in no way controversial.. In fact it took a deeper look into aspects of what it is we do.. And competition and competing bring man’s will to achieve and succeed to the fore.. Without which drive we would no doubt still be in the dark ages! 🙂
        Pride in self, and our successes are also an important phase of growth.. Pitting ourselves against worthy opponents within sport I have no objection to..
        Wishing you a wonderful new week.. Here its a Holiday today.. for May Day.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. masterful calling of the bout, Michael!
    those with & without the ring
    will be winners & losers
    as is the nature
    of competition.
    may the bell sound
    cueing removal of gloves
    & mass hugging & harmony commence
    ushering new olympics of cooperation
    triumphing over competition 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • You said it, David! I wouldn’t necessarily require that the gloves be removed altogether, if two beings preferred to engage in this type of sport. I can see how sometimes “pushing off one another” can bring out something within us. I like the idea of the two beings pushing off one another being masters– compassionate of heart and honed in their skill– who recognize that what they offer will be a dance. An impromptu choreography through which something holy may be revealed. Then it is not about winning or losing, but about utter vulnerability and submission to revelation… Modern sport is far too couched in the glory of winning, to your point, with which I agree, and I do see redeeming undercurrents within it at times… I like to consider the recognition that winning is only meaningful when the losers are recognized as worthy, dignified beings to be honored as equals…

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow Michael. This is a very unique perspective on boxing, as one of infinite avenues to explore relationship, devotion and vulnerability. Thanks for sharing your unique way of looking and expressing. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A quite delicious opening two paragraphs Michael, and the undercard matches their promise in full. You have written, at parts, in a style and of a quality fitting of the very finest and most insightful sports journalism, and which reaches far beyond the mundanity of scores, past performance stats, and tactics. Behind the triumphs and failures, the millions earned and the trite sound bites spewed forth, stands the woman or man no different in essence than any other, the one facing the universal challenge of humankind, the solving of the equation of eternity: to at first glimpse, then to embrace the knowledge that all the punches taken had each in turn been absorbed in the cause of perfection.

    Thank you for your wonderful writing as always dear Michael,

    Hariod.

    P.S. My London Olympics heroin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicola_Adams

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Hariod! You have said it eloquently and concisely, and elaborated on the very point I was hoping to score… 🙂 I enjoyed your delightful prose as ever, recognizing that “all the punches taken had each in turn been absorbed in the cause of perfection.” I’m not sure that’s how they saw it last night, but ultimately it does come to this…

      And thank you for the link to your Olympics heroin. It’s really interesting to me that women are taking up boxing, since I think, perhaps stereotypically, and influenced no doubt by my own mother’s dim view of the sport, that women in general are a tad saner on the average than men when it comes to the value of systematized violence. Perhaps there is the opportunity to redefine the sport with emphasis on the grace and skill… The ear-biting, cocky and brash violence of the male version of the sport that so often headline tend, in my opinion, to bury the points related to skill, cunning, and honor that also exist therein.

      Michael

      Like

  5. Oh darn I never know what to say except this was fabulous! The whole telling, the whole analogy. Of course boxing is just another metaphor for life. Of course. What else could it be?! And of course you find a masterful way of showing that. Love the first 2 paragraphs. And the last line.
    Alison

    Like

    • It’s okay, Alison. I never know what to say but thank you! It doesn’t seem enough. Perhaps the reality is that while it is nice to talk about our affecting and being affected by others, it just doesn’t compare to the experience itself… When the space between us suddenly fills with connection, it is so joyous we can’t escape the desire to report on it… And find we don’t have the words…

      I am kinda’ glad we found this way to do it, as opposed to boxing, though… 🙂

      Michael

      Like

  6. Michael,
    If I may (as I still am timid…) share some of my favorite lines… Quoting you seems best, as I agree: “it’s what’s alive within the experience that matters– not how it’s dressed up for presentation.” and “Our lives are not made in the brightly lit moments, but in the thousands of days in the gym, before and after, where we encounter the fullness of our own hearts when no one else is looking.” Way to inspire! You really excel as a writer in my eyes.
    Best to you… Ka

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ka,

      Please do! I don’t think I would have described you as timid, but I trust your judgment! Thoughtful and reflective, I would have said. And down-to-earth in your benevolence. There’s a great deal of humanity in your compassion. It’s not off in space somewhere… These are just impressions… but it’s tricky through these blogs, isn’t it!? It’s the little things that speak volumes. I’m grateful we have connected. And thank you for taking the time to stay in touch, and for the kind words…

      Best to you as well…
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Michael,
        I am just reading this comment now after writing a post I needed to write…
        What resonance!
        I am truly timid. There’s stuff for me to work through (who does not?), and I find that my blog is my place for expression. I want to be with humanity, and not off in space – and yet… I am coaxed to the edge of my beingness, drawn up from a source into a presence, into an experience…into infinity, and YES, blogs don’t feel like easy communication. Maybe the written word highlights, even-more-so, our relationship with ourselves. We see that what we see… is a reflection of ourselves… our projections. We can examine better from here. That can be scary. It’s good to have friends… when you venture into the depth that is yourself. 🙂 I, too, am grateful. Much gratitude…Ka

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m running out of words here, Ka… Simply resonating here with your fine sentiments…

          One thing I find about writing is from time to time I do see myself in new ways. Stuff comes out during those moments of creative muddling with the nothing and the everything… You’ve put words to something I haven’t been able to, but have felt also. This isn’t quite like what we’re used to calling communication, but sharing from the heart, and responding, even when the two parties are writing about totally different things, seems to be relevatory to the writers… Is that kind of what you’re saying? I’ve had some beautiful conversations sometimes where two people just share what’s on their mind. They’re in totally different worlds! But the act of sharing, and of the other receiving and sharing… It does something… It reveals something… It’s really fascinating.

          Gratitude here as well, my friend.
          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, Michael it is very fascinating how we can talk about different things, and still find communion through the written word. Thank you for thoughts, as always, Ka

            Liked by 1 person

  7. This is some amazing stuff. Your style of prose is beautiful and right up my alley. I also love the cadence of your poetry and the messages behind them. What you have to say is amazingly rich and substantial. I’m really enjoying it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Darryl,

      Thank you, and likewise! I’ve just been enjoying a visit to your own site. I’m delighted that our mutual Scottish friend provided the introduction…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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