I soooo want the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA finals. I try not to care; I really do. After they blew the last shot of the first game and then fell apart in overtime, I tried to comfort myself with: “Hey, it was really good basketball; great to watch.”
When it was announced that Irving, one of their best players, had broken his kneecap at the end of the first game, I thought like many that it would be tough to win unless some others could step up their game. So, I went into the second game trying to distance myself from caring. I had the game on, but I busied myself with cleaning the room as I watched.
Most people I have talked to about these finals couldn’t care less about them, and then there are others like my son and husband who are rooting for the opponents – the Golden State Warriors.
I say to them, “How can you root against your family?” “How can you root against this city so in need of good news? Hope? A win?” Mind you, it doesn’t escape my pastoral, theological mind that this is all absurd. Hope from a basketball series’ win? How fleeting, as Ecclesiastes writes of most human endeavors, is that?
My son says he would have rooted for Cleveland if they hadn’t gone after LeBron James. He can’t stand James, partly because of what he calls James’ Savior complex. “They didn’t need him; they could have waited and they would have gotten there without him.” And on the other side, he says, the Golden State Warriors’ star, Stephen Curry is a really nice guy; I think he even told me he’s a Christian.
You hear, don’t you, that my son has the better argument? He’s standing on more solid ground. But I am connected to the actual ground of Ohio: born and raised in the state, summers up on Lake Erie along which Cleveland sits. There is something about earth, ground, geography that roots us, that forms us, is there not?
When I go home (see, it’s still home) to visit my mother and brother, I love to walk the fields of prairie grass and wild flowers. I recognize the whir of the insects and the bass of the frogs in the warm weather; I resonate with the shape of the trees and the clouds coming across the sky as winter sets in. My being says, “This is where I grew up; this is what has shaped me; I am part of this place and this place is part of me.” I wonder if that’s part of the meaning of Genesis when God blows into the earth and adam – a creature of the earth comes forth. We are of the earth; the ground beneath our feet matters; there is something holy about this connection even if we move far away.
And so, I will root for the Cavaliers whether or not James is annoying -- whether or not Stephen Curry is a nicer guy with a more beautiful shot. I’ll just try, whether they win or lose, to act holy in doing so.
Where did you grow up? What is your connection to that place? How did the geography, the land, the sea, the sky shape you?