Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: Wingfield (page 1 of 5)

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.”

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That kind of family

I keep vivid memories of the experience of loosing my grandparents when I was 13 and 17. I remember the hospital room, the waiting. I remember watching the shoulders of grown men rise and fall as they cried. Mostly, I remember love. I remember the intense feeling of love for a person, and for one another.

In the days that followed, I remember more sadness, but mostly an experience of my family coming together. The cousins practically slumber partied for three days as we endured the funeral process. When it was all over, dad handed the keys of the van to Tim and we went to a matinee and out for Pizza Hut. (Brief sidenote: we thought we were hilarious when we sent Kevin in to get a table, as the hostess asked “Just one?” and he responded, “no, 11.” It really wasn’t that funny, but we rolled with laughter in the parking lot.)

Growing up, we had plenty of opportunities to be together. We spent countless hours at the lake, we had holidays, overnights and even family trips to watch the horse races. We weren’t strangers who suddenly bonded together. The ties that had held us were pulled tighter, like the shoe wedgies of 6th grade.

The moments of grief taught me: this is the kind of family we are. This is how we deal with hard stuff. 

As children and even young adults, at funeral moments in life, we were carried and cared for. We helped choose the music and looked through pictures, but the adults did the heavy lifting up of one another. They bore the weight of loss together. The children were able to simply be sad and move through the grief; the adults were living a different reality, accepting a new way of life without someone they loved so very much.

Now, we find ourselves at a new place. With the passing of my Uncle Bill, we have the first of the next generation to leave us. This time, there’s no even ground. With grandparents, the adult siblings make the decisions and the kids come along for the ride. Now we have adult siblings and adult children and adult cousins and, by the way, none of us feel ready to be those kinds of adults..

When I arrived at the hospital on Sunday night to say farewell to the orneriest man to walk the streets of Ridgeway, everyone was there. The cousins and spouses who weren’t tending children were beside our uncle, holding up our cousins and our fathers. We just showed up. (And, ordered pizzas.)

This is the kind of family we are. This is how we deal with hard stuff. 

I don’t like that we’re suddenly in this place. I don’t like seeing people I love in mourning. I don’t like my own sadness in missing my uncle. I don’t even really like the idea that I’m a grown up in these situations.

But I love my family. I love that we’re here, no matter what. I love that when we hurt, we hurt together. And I love that when it comes to this new phase of life, this place where we grieve on uneven scales, we’re still doing it as a family.

Visit me elsewhere:

God, the Terrible Farmer

I grew up in Farm Country with a Farm Family. I was potty trained behind tractor tires and spent Easter Sundays with shredded chicken sandwiches in the back of a pickup truck. I climbed in empty orange wagons for fun. Our family retired the Internationals when I was 16, but I have some familiarity around farmground.

Which gives me the authority to tell you: Jesus was a terrible farmer.

In two editions of his life story, we hear him tell about this farmer, representative of God, who sowed seed. Some fell on the road (and the evil snatched it up, we hear later), some in the thorny patch (choked by the cares of the world), some in the rocks (which withered when the sun came out) and then some in the “good soil” which reaped a healthy crop.

Anyone with a Life Application Bible immediately jumps to “how to become good soil” so the Word of God takes root and is fruitful. Well done.

Except.

If my dad’s good friends, all farmers, were to follow around this God Farmer, they would do so with satchels over their shoulders and dustpans in their hands to pick up all the seed God is wasting. I can hear the expletives escaping from Don’s mouth already, how only an idiot tosses perfectly good seed every which way.

God would make a terrible farmer. He doesn’t even know where to plant the seed. It goes in the field, God. Where it has a chance to grow

Jesus offers us this parable for reasons that extend beyond an encouragement to “be better soil.” This is paradigm-shifting stuff. He’s moving us from commands – not to plant more than one kind of crop in the same field – to tossing around the seed all willy-nilly.

I see your eyes shifting slightly to the left, the way that they do when you wonder where I’m going with such an idea.

Because everyone was quite confused (Wingfield Farms wasn’t the first to figure out seed grows best in fertile soil), Jesus tells those closest to him “the seed is the Word of God.”

Fast forward to all the other little tales Jesus tells. Something about a treasure chest  in the middle of a field and a pearl at a flea market… that’s funny. God’s treasures seem to be sown about in the most unlikely and unexpected of places. Nay, dare I say it, in the most unlikely and unexpected of people. Maybe the most unexpected experiences, moments and relationships.

In this life we have a few options. We can believe that corn goes in corn fields and beans go in bean fields, forever and ever amen. And we’ll find what we expect. We also might get a tad upset when a random weed creeps in, disrupting our work of perfection.

I believe Jesus invites us to a life of discovering God everywhere. The places you would least expect. In the Bible it was in a bush, in the belly of a whale, under the clear blue sky, and under an unpredictable plant. In the hick-town of Nazareth.

If God shows up there, who is to say he won’t show up in the football locker room? During the spelling bee. At the board meeting. In the simple act of teaching a child to tie her shoes. In baking for a family who grieves. You could say “God is in the small things.” Or, perhaps more accurately, there are no small things. There are no insignificant things. There are no insignificant people, places or moments in life.

God sows his seed all over this creation. His gift is the process of discovering it.

I’ve mentioned Sarah Bessey before, and my passionate love affair with her book Out of Sorts. I feel like we’re kindred spirits when it comes to this issue; she writes that God is in the work of our every day, normal lives. Of course, God is in the church work, the groups and studies, as we might expect. Church can be a bean field, filled with beans. Good soil. But please, dear friend, don’t limit God to that. Don’t put up a fence row and go on believing you’ve done sorted out all the details. Please don’t believe you’ve found all of God under that little steeple.

Our God is much bigger than where things are supposed to go and supposed to happen. He’s throwing Himself into everything. Perhaps it doesn’t always take root. Perhaps evil will steal a bit away. But He keeps throwing his seed around. He throws it around like he will never run out.

I want to live my life like that. With that kind of generosity; that kind of hope. May we live like God has planted Himself anywhere.

Visit me elsewhere:
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