15 April 2010

Butler and Easter

I only vaguely followed the NCAA Final Four tournament. Even someone remotely aware of the tournament probably knows about the unlikely team of Butler meeting the basketball Goliath of Duke in the final game.

The story reminded me of the Saints fairy tale season- underdogs, momentum building, nation watching and beginning to rally around them. I was certain this was THEIR season, one of fate. My father-in-law made a prediction of Duke winning by a sizable margin and I quickly explained my view, comparing them with our beloved Saints.

I had made a "date" with my mother-in-law to watch a movie so I wasn't even watching the game. I kept tabs on the score, however, by occasionally calling out to Mark to check on it. Sounds like it was an amazing game. David, in the form of Butler, stood toe to toe with Goliath. Every time I checked, it was within a point or two. Finally, with thirteen seconds left, Butler had the ball and I paused the movie to watch. I wanted to witness that moment of sheer joy, the culmination of the dream, the prayer answered. I watched in disbelief as a shot went up and met nothing but air, then Duke stole the ball, scored a point with a free throw and left only 3 seconds on the clock. One last chance. One last shot. Then, stunned silence as the ball sailed through the air miles from the net. It was hard to look into the faces of the players and the fans. I imagine it was hard for anyone watching but more so for a Saints fan. We had just had our dream completed, our prayer answered. What if Hartley had missed the kick? That would have been us.

I am a Christian and an optimist. The worst part of the entire scenario is that it was Easter Monday. Jesus had risen. The underdog winning is simply an analogy for the story of the Resurrection. That is why we always root for them. I could not make sense of this loss. It seemed as unnecessary as so many things we question in this life- the loss of a job, a young couple struggling to have a baby, the untimely death of a loved one. Why couldn't Butler have their "Hallelujah" moment, that one we Saints fans know so well and will never forget? Watching that dream die before their eyes was so painful to me.

I started writing this post last week. I got to a dead end. I couldn't come to a conclusion, at least not one an optimistic Christian could understand. I was talking to Mark about it and he concurred. He said I should set it on the side and the answer would come. I was dropping him off and turned on the radio as he got out of the car. The song playing stopped me in my tracks.

A woman holding on for life, a dying man giving up the fight
are better than a hallelujah sometimes.

Tears of shame for what's been done, the silence when the words won't come
are better than a hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody.
Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts

are better than a hallelujah.

Wow! What a beautiful idea. Our times of pain and suffering glorify God in ways our joys and triumphs can't. The only way to Easter Sunday is through Good Friday. Standing there, watching the Butler basketball team had me initially asking questions. Finally, more than a week later I got an answer. This life is filled with moments of triumph and joy as well as disappointment and pain. In the end, however, good prevails and justice is served. Each member of that basketball team will get their moment because, thanks to Jesus, the end of every life's story can be the greatest "hallelujah" we will ever know.

Happy Easter.

PS. Here's a link to the song by Amy Grant.

1 comment:

  1. I was disappointed too that Butler didn't win. I held my breath the whole last minute. It would have been an amazing story. Jenny