Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Hit ’em in the nose

Several years ago, my dad and his brothers went to a boxing match. It was a kinda-big-deal match and they ended up with seats close to the action (I’m guessing a casino was involved). Not being huge followers of the sport, they were immersed in the excitement, with fans shouting all around them their encouragement on what the fighters should do next. Words like “jab” and “hook” and fancy boxing terms, probably. To join the excitement, and coincidentally at a lull in the noise, my father – proud daughter moment ahead – shouted, “hit ’em in the nose!”

The guy in the ring straight up looked at him.

Since that time, this tale has been told and retold within the extended family and it never gets less funny. Hit ’em in the nose is our solution to dance offs, card games, and toddlers bickering.

Yesterday, a quorum of Wingfields descended upon the Chiller North hockey ring to support the eldest two of the second generation cousins. It was like a circus car watching families arrive and join the group – we just kept coming. Being B’s senior year and last season, we self-determined to make as much ruckus (a family talent) possible.

While our skills at yelling and making a scene are well-practiced, our knowledge of hockey is rather limited. We took our cues from the parents of the kids on the rink, knowing when to be upset about a call or not. Meaning, when cousin Wendy informed the ref of a missed call for icing (which, btw, has nothing to do with cookies or cake, I’m sad to inform you), I simply yelled, “Yeah! What she said!” You know, because I’m there to show support. The 40 or so of us chanted his number and stomped our feet on the noisy bleachers.

Cousin B had a breakaway moment right in front of our whole family, so we were loudly supportive . Get it! Go! Come on, B! 

You know where this is going.

From the middle of our group… HIT ‘EM IN THE NOSE! Followed by uproarious laughter.

I’d like to make a list of things you should apparently not encourage at a highly-physical sporting event of young men and protective mamas:

1. Acts which require you to drop the gloves.

We learned our lesson after there was an incident of shouting, standing, leaning, talk-to-the-hand motioning, and more words. A mom from the other team responded, “that’s my son out there!”

Whoops.

Now, let me assure you, we are not nasty fans. We are hilarious. We were obvious about our love for our cousin and our ignorance of all hockey rules. We really couldn’t name where the other team was from nor did we really pay attention to the fact that another team was even on the rink. It was the B Show, with some other actors. So we were a tad sorry-not-sorry because, really, can you take anyone seriously when they open with cheers and an Arsenio Hall style “woot woot woot”? The only thing we were bitter about was the numbness of our toes.

One of my kids asked, legitimately confused, why the other mom was so upset. My best explanation was that some people believe that cheering for someone means we’re trying to be mean to everyone else. They mistakenly took personally that our love for one kid meant less love for hers. She believed that love and support were in limited supply and when she operated in that mentality, it was clear that her kid was getting ripped off and our B was getting “too much.”

While I love some aspects of athletics, this, my friends is a dangerous side effect. Healthy competition for personal betterment aside, there’s a real tendency to begin to believe the world only works in Us/Them, Home/Visitors dualities.

Support your kid. Cheer for wins, console for losses. Help them get better, remind them of their worth beyond the game. These are good things.

And can I offer a recommendation? For every hour you spend in the bleachers supporting your team, spend at least 2 hours at a table, reminding yourself that we belong to one another. Put yourself next to others, sharing food and passing drinks and remembering there doesn’t always have to be a “them” for you to experience good things.

Perhaps then you’ll be able to arrive at the field/gym/rink in a place of worthiness, able to appreciate that one of the kids out on the rink is having a memorable day, he’s being loved and supported by family from near and far, and you can just be glad for him. Or, you can be inspired and call up your siblings and cousins and uncles and say, “hey, you know, my kid has a game next Sunday, and though it’s sub-arctic temperatures in the rink, the games are free and fun and he would love it if you came and cheered him on.” And you would get to have day that all your family left saying, “that was so much fun, I love my family, and we should do that more often.”

Who tells your story?

In case I didn’t shout it from the rooftops of social media enough, I married the best of husbands, best of men. He sent me to see Hamilton – I flew out the day after Christmas.

The number one question asked to me is, “was it worth it to see it live?” I mean, if you’ve listened to the soundtrack, you’ve heard 99% of the show. Nearly the entire thing is in song (as is Rent, my other favorite musical I sing to people ad nauseum).

The staging is fantastic and the movement of the choreography makes it worth the ticket price. There’s a hidden character that I’m grateful I read about before I went. The piece is so layered and brilliantly woven that,  as impossible as it seemed to me – having heard and dissected the themes hundreds of times before seeing it – I walked away with a better grasp of (one of) the true questions the story was out to reveal: Who tells your story?

It’s easy to sing, but watching Eliza walk across the stage and explain to the world that she chose to write herself back into the narrative broke me. She told his story, because of love.

Hamilton wanted to Live Big. “Don’t be surprised when you read about me in your history books.” His sense of limited time and limited life drove him to produce and work and drive and create and make change. In the words of 98% of pastors of today, he wanted to “make an impact”. The thought of his legacy drove him toward Bigness.

Yet.

The masses never truly told his story. Wall Street only speaks his name when the news crews are around covering a broadway play. Banks pay little tribute to him. The crowds rarely tell the story, the truest story, the story that captures your heart and not just your numbers.

But Eliza. Eliza. (Yes, I just sang that.) She tells his story. His writings, his soldiers. His heart.

We can do Great Things in this world. We can be World Changers. A Founding Father. A Global Economy Infrastructure Creator. All awesome, much needed. But that doesn’t give you your legacy.

Your love creates your legacy.

Hamilton was far from Perfect Husband (and the show is clear on that one), but he loved his wife and family. And that’s what I packed into my bag to bring home from NYC. You can do everything short of becoming President, and if you don’t love well, it’s not a great story. You can do big, great things for the masses, but if you can’t love the people under your roof, your story is mostly reduced to numbers.

Can I be real a second? Just a millisecond? Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second? 

This is hard for me. In the thick of it – convincing toddlers to quietly go (back) to bed or teaching for the 8 millionth time to put things away and treat our things with respect – it seems petty. Miniscule. After the 78th time of interrupting my attempts to put dinner on the table to intervene in a nerf gun war gone awry, I’d much rather turn my attention to the bigger battles of society. Truthfully, I feel like I might make more progress dismantling the patriarchy than my feeble attempts to keep a floor without socks strewn about everywhere. (WHO is wearing all these socks?!)

At the end of my days, even if I manage to cure world hunger, the millions of people fed won’t have my story. It will be told by those who I tuck in each night and by the one who always checks to make sure nothing is in the washing machine. The people who share my table and the deep center of my heart – they will tell my story.

Hamilton convinced me to fill the pages with material for them to tell the best story possible.

God, CEO?

Many of our deepest theological inquiries revolve around the nature of God and God’s decision-making process. Why this and not that? Why me and not him? Why now and not then? Events of our lives transpire and we lack insight into the larger picture of what’s going on. Nice Christians remind us that “God’s plan” is bigger than our own lives (true), yet we’re often unsatisfied with the idea that terrible things can happen to good people, simply because God Said So.

These types of frustrations, of which I have experienced more than once, I believe come from an understanding of God as Other. God, the Boss Man. The CEO who has to make decisions for the sake of the company, and the individual employees may or may not like it.

When I was at a big(ger) workplace, we had a fantastic boss who everyone loved to love. He took us to Vegas our first year – paid for the tickets and the rooms and a smokin’ party. And then when the market fell apart, he had to make hard decisions. There were lean years.Benefits were taken away, hours were cut.  We still wanted to believe in this boss because we knew, at the core, he was a good boss and we worked for a good company. But life kinda sucked for a while and we were left to decide, “will my bossman take care of me in the end?” By the time I left, most of us were working hard for good reviews in anticipation of a decent year-end bonus, which is my understanding of most large workplace environments.

God as a CEO is a helpful way of understanding God Over Us. God as the One in control. This understanding is heavy throughout our scripture because God as King threads the narrative. Hierarchy was the structure of society – and often still is – and if our way of understanding God doesn’t fit unto our understanding of the world, it’s often not a helpful theology.

This line of thinking has largely dominated much of what I’ve experienced in religious life. Make the Boss happy and earn a great retirement.

I would like to propose: God is not only Over Us. God is also In Us and Through Us. God works outside the corner office.

I now work at a very small practice, working in multiple roles. Two individuals are the business “owners” and at times they have to make strategic decisions about the next steps. Yet no one in the office is working toward an annual review. There is not a boss-man to make happy as much as an ethos that permeates the practice. We all do our work, as varied as it might be, infused with the same intention. As the newer person, I’m often listening closely to their language and watching their actions, because that’s how I begin to fall into the rhythm.

Each phone call, lunch meeting and appointment carries the essence of the organization, not because the CEO printed it on a shirt, but because it taps into something that’s already within each of the individuals working here. Our workplace is a lot of “Yes! Do more of that!” with a “Have you tried…?” offered when needed.

Imagine God is also like that. God is not only Over Us, but God is With Us; Immanuel, the essence of this season.

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