Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! The crowd cheered in punctuated rhythm celebrating Tiger Woods’s victory at this year’s Masters golf tournament. While the golf world watched with excitement a moment most thought would not happen, Tiger tapped in for a bogey five on the 72nd hole to win his fifteenth major golf tournament. As golfers relished his victory, a mindful sense of pathos and irony welled inside me.
Masters Sunday was also Palm Sunday. Inching toward consciousness through diversionary desires, through difficulties, through the long blinding journey called ambition, truth can be subtle and evolutionary. Also, truth can rush as a torrent, flooding us with understanding. Watching the crowd cheer “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!,” my mind shifted in reverse to another Palm Sunday when the crowd cheered, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” Sadness entered me as I remembered that a few days later, the crowd yelled, “Barabbas! Barabbas! Barabbas!” Kierkegaard was right – “the crowd is untruth.”
Am I making too much of this? Maybe, but something peals true inside me. Wisdom arrives at the pace of perception and only after failed effort piled upon effort, by preparation of sorts does wisdom lift its guise. I know Easter has passed the calendar but is it ever really over?
Wisdom leaves me small.
Common to us are experiences when nature made us slight and picked from us pride’s thorn. We have walked along a beach and watched a ship fade into the horizon, peered at the earth from an airplane at 30,000 feet, rested prostrate in a field on a summer night, losing count of the stars while wondering if the universe ends. Breathless, we have stood on a mountain and wondered into imagination, and spirit grieving, wept in a pew surrounded by other weeping souls, touched by eternity at a loved one’s funeral. Each tipped us into insignificance. And still, the crowd lives and does not learn, remains untrue and unwise.
Posturing in prayer, not asking but telling God, thinking of Him as a possession like my car or golf clubs, an object to service me, I realize how silently I fall. Because my humanity has not yet emptied all my pride, because pride makes me small the same as an endless universe, because I catch myself unthinking, I can be in the crowd and removed from it, veer into solitude and community at the same time, remain a Cheatham and yet, altogether different.
Standing where I am, preparation unfolds me through time. I realize I can’t donate enough money, feed enough poor, visit enough assisted living homes or deny my vanities to gain God. I can’t be enough. God whispers to me I am enough.
Perception paces and streams through redemption, forgiveness and obedience, colliding at the watersmeet where love joins and shouts me toward God, away from the crowd.
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are blinded, it is veiled to those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 4:3, NKJV).