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Golfers…is it hazard, boundary or OB?

Some games have foul lines. On or inside, the ball is in play. (baseball)

Some games have touch lines. On or inside, the ball is live. (soccer)

The ruling is made by an official with regard to the ball and not the player. Unless you’re playing pick up ball, where the loudest and most authoritative kid usually prevails.

Out of bounds stakeBut golf is different. Golfers contend with two kinds of lines: boundaries and hazards. Hit it out of bounds and all is lost – stroke, distance, plus penalty – although you might be able to rescue your golf ball. But hazards you can play out of, if you dare.

They pose an interesting challenge:

  • is it safe?
  • is it wise?
  • is it fair?

Golfers regularly navigate hazardous territory. Errant golfers more than the rest. We trudge through long, bug-infested, reptile-inhabited grasses, foraging for our ball. If we find it, we’re gonna try and play it. Even if this is unwise or the shot is low probability. Without grounding our club, we’re going to blast it out of the muddy water, drive it through the reeds, and sail it up and onto the green. So what if our shoes, socks and outerwear are decorated with goose poop. We got it out!

I have enjoyed watching players at the Junior PGA Championship this week.

8 fairway, from the tall grass

8 fairway, from the tall grass

They have me reminiscing about my heyday, which bears little resemblance to the way these kids play. Nearly always, they hit the fairway. It gets more interesting when they land in a hazard. Then they must elect whether to play it or take a drop.

Dropping it is safe, but it costs you a stroke. Playing it is risky, but it doesn’t. In the hazard, they decide. I love this moment for these kids (score and outcome aside). It offers them something our culture rarely does – a gray moment all their own.

So much for us is black and white and safe all over. Fair or foul. In or out. Rulings move the game along. But what of stepping over the barrier and into the hazard? What of stepping through difference to investigate options? What of stepping beyond comfort to engage whoever and whatever we find there?

Today I read this from inward/outward:

Breaking down the barriers between the givers and the receivers of aid, between those who have and those who have not, is an essential expression of the solidarity that liberates the privileged from their blindness and the marginalized from their invisibility. ~ Theodore W. Jennings, in  

Trump NationalHave we mistaken the hazard markers for out of bounds stakes? We, the “haves,” who know that OB stakes are white and hazard markers are red, are not meant to be blind to color but to see all of life in its shades. It’s so very like God to use a gray zone to sharpen our vision:

  • is it safe?

  • is it wise?

  • is it fair?

Those, we’re meant to distinguish. Out of bounds? nope. Hazardous? perhaps. Worth it?

Some boundaries will always be worth crossing

Definitely.

Reaching Beyond

“God’s love reaches beyond my mistakes, my fears and my sin”

I like that image, created by Elizabeth Veldboom, author of the Upper Room meditation for today. A love that reaches beyond boundaries, even those that are indeterminate, whose margins are poorly defined, perhaps invisible to the naked eye. But all things are possible for God.

I find myself here, I suspect, because a friend has died. She had a rare form of cancer, as I understand it, that didn’t respond to any treatment. Imagine what that must be like. To be diagnosed with an invader you can’t see and can’t touch and can’t defend yourself against.

God reaches beyond this with great sweeping arms that enclose more than your fears and more than your illness. I pray that Callista felt this, at least in her last days. This enfolding by God. This holding to Himself.

I wish the treatments had been able to reach beyond this cancer. I wish there had been defined boundaries so the surgeons could have said, “We got it all; you’re clear.” But this was not the news Callista got.

And now we will gather to remember her. There will be holding and hugging and tearful goodbyes. All this will reach beyond us. Because that is what love does.

It makes the perishable, imperishable. It mends the torn, binds up the wounds heals the brokenness. Refreshes, relieves, rejuvenates. This, I imagine, was the morning after Christ returned to His heavenly throne. When the incarnation was reversed, for good.

And for the good of us all.

Following the rules is so high school, grow up already

My name is Wendy and I am not a rule-follower. I just discovered this about myself. Call it an epiphany. All these years I thought I was a person that lived according to the rules. But no.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t go around looking for rules to break and havoc to wreak. I’m not a rule-breaker, per se. Just a rule-expander. I don’t like to be hemmed in by the rules.

I should have realized this in high school, when I got busted by the shop teacher for not having a pass in the hallway. Why did I need a pass? I was a student government representative, an officer in my class and a straight-A student. How could he question by right to be in the hall without a pass? Didn’t he know that people like me don’t break the rules? We expand them.

A hall pass, that’s for the other kids. The untrustworthy kids.

Mr. shop teacher, wherever you are, I apologize. You were right. I was in the wrong. I’m sorry.

Of course, that incident didn’t change the high school me. Just made me mad. I wrote some letters. Really showed them. But today it still speaks to me. Shows me the truth about me: I have always liked to use the rules for my own ends. Show me the boundaries – fine – but wouldn’t it make more sense to modify here and here?

Face to face with Christ himself I would probably offer a bit of advice about some updates needed to the scripture text.

Go ahead. Call me out on this if you want to. But I’m pretty sure that Christ would engage this conversation. No judgment. Because He knows that negotiation is what I need to find the line between fair and foul. And His ultimate patience allows me to keep searching for it. His great love for me knows the comfort I will feel when I find it.

But step one is admitting I have a problem. I’m not a rule-follower.

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