Betty J. Slade
My heart turns to the boys of fall at this time of the year. I can hear Kenny Chesney sing those lyrics once again. “They didn’t let just anybody in that club/Took every ounce of heart and sweat and blood/To get to wear those game-day jerseys down the hall/The kings of the school, man, we’re the boys of fall/It’s knocking heads and talking trash/It’s slinging mud and dirt and grass/It’s I got your number, I got your back.”
Once again, it’s football season. Our grandsons have graduated, but we haven’t forgotten their glory days. We, along with other parents and grandparents, watched our boys on the field — and enjoyed every minute.
Before each game, we built them up. We even drove across the state to see them play. We knew every boy’s name, their position and their number. We yelled from the bleachers, praised them, and told them how to play. We talked about the game from the time it was over until the next began. We didn’t want those days to end, but like all things, they did. “Our boys” have grown up and a new crop is here to take their place.
We have all experienced the glory days at some point in life. Those times when we thought we owned the world. Wrong! The world owned us. Being important made us feel good and we didn’t mind being owned. We gladly allowed ourselves to be captured by our own perception of glory.
Believe it or not, life is better after “the glory.” Of course, we have to experience the other side to know this. It probably sounds like I am painting a picture of someone in their old age who has lived life, who now sits in a rocking chair dreaming of that last touchdown. Quite the opposite!
Life after the glory days is nothing less than snapping a ball back in to play, a new game, a new day. Perhaps even a new beginning. After all, we already know what we have accomplished. We even know how we failed along the way. The stress of the game is replaced by an understanding of peace. An understanding of not just where we may have limitations, but of the promise of what we can achieve.
All too often, we struggle with faded glory. Why? Maybe it’s because the mountain we once stood on now blocks our sight as viewed from its base. Isn’t it interesting how the jersey we once wore that showed so bright now seems so dull when viewed from the side line?
It may sound defeating but it’s not. In fact, there is a freedom we can experience when we lay down the reputation that we otherwise felt we had to defend. What happens when we take off our helmet? We see ourselves for the hot mess we are. If we can take comfort with anything in life, it’s in seeing ourselves for who we are.
While the gone of the game may not always be easy, discovering who we are and becoming secure in that is tomorrow’s touchdown. No run to play, no sweat to pour, just an opportunity to rest in grace and discover what lies ahead.
Final brushstroke: In a little town like ours, where newspaper clippings fill a coffee table, we cheer on those who rush the field, and celebrate those who led the way.
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