As I was growing up I was quite the tomboy. Bet you never guessed that, huh? There was only one other girl in the neighborhood to play with, and she was a tomboy too. So there you have it. I am not afraid of spiders or snakes and I can worm my hook and clean my fish and I LOVE FOOTBALL.
The boys of the neighborhood wouldn’t allow me to play football with them. Tomboy or not, I was a still a girl and was to be treated as one. In the fall of my 4th grade year one of the neighbor boys got tired of my constant pleading to play. He told the other boys to treat me just like one of them. I lined up on the line just as I had seen the boys do. The very first play they bowled me over on the way to sac the quarterback and left me behind on the grass crying. I had been hit in the collarbone. My collarbone was broken in a bike wreck earlier that summer. A bag containing my swimsuit and towel tangled with the front spokes. My swimming season ended and I wore a donut brace until school started. Laying on the ground writhing, it hurt much more than the initial break. A trip to the hospital revealed just a bad bruise. It was not re-broken thank heavens. I was not allowed to play football with the neighbor boys again, ever. I didn’t want to.
Ninth grade year the varsity football coach was our girls PE instructor. And guess what we learned In the St Patrick’s parking lot/playground we learned to play football. I was fast and could catch well so I became a receiver. On a rare occasion my assignment was to go deep and the QB would hurl a pass at me. I may have even caught one.
Continuing through high school we played powder puff football during homecoming week. We played against the girls in the other grade levels. Powder puff football was competitive to some degree, as all the girls had the varsity football coach for 9th grade PE. We might have won, I don’t remember. I might have been called upon to “go deep”. I don’t remember. It was the playing that was important. And it was fun.
The last time I tried to “go deep” was in the fall of my freshman year at Eastern Washington University. A girl from my hometown invited me to play intramural football. It was a fun way to meet new people. We practiced a few times and then the games started. I don’t remember what the team was called. We had light blue shirts with the team name and our nickname. I do remember the game when we lined up on the field against the dreaded “Chumpets”. I was 5’5″ and weighed 105 lbs. The smallest Chumpet was 6′ tall and 199 lbs. The call came “Carol, go deep”. Our quarterback Shelley got the ball headed toward me as if ran my pattern. I turned back towards her to catch the pass, had it in my hands when I was crunched between two Chumpets. I fell to the field, seeing black sky and stars. I never played again. I didn’t want to.
Today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke had Jesus convincing some fishermen to take him on their boat just a little way from shore. From that short distance offshore the mob of people who had been following him could hear him as his voice was carried across the water. While on the boat he noticed the “empty nets”. (This passage drips with symbolism). The fishermen who transported him were weary from fishing for hours. They had caught nothing at all. Jesus had them take their boats out a little farther and then to “go deep” with their nets. They brought in so many fish that their boat almost sank and they called to a nearby boat to come and get some fish too. These fishermen who were all told to “go deep” became fishers of men, Jesus’s apostles.
I felt very emotional at church today. I was hyper aware of people around me. At mid point in my medication cycle the dyskinesias started in. My torso weaved in and out like I am grooving to the music, but there was no music playing during Father Maxwell’s homily. A few tears worked their way out of my eyes as I tried to hold them back. And then they just keep on coming.
I was not actually crying those tears. They were crying themselves.
I thought about “going deep”. What does that really mean? In football its sprinting as hard as you can down the field, giving it your all and then, receiving the pass. For the soon to be “fishers of men” it meant trusting someone they hardly knew. Even though they were weary and heartless from unsuccessfully fishing all night, they were willing to take this strangers’ word that they would find fish if they “cast their nets” again, if they went ” deep”. Their tired and empty souls were replenished. AHH I am starting to get it.
I looked around me and saw so many instances of ” going deep” in people sitting nearby. People who had invested in relationships, who had raised their families, who had taken the risks, who had worked extra hard to “receive”.
The woman in front and to the right lovingly rubbed the back of her adult daughter who experiences a disability. This mom went deep for her girl on so many levels beginning at a very young age. She has been parenting this child for nearly 25 years. She is not tired, at least not in the way she touched her daughter with such calming love. It touched me.
The couple next to me have been married many years, and have kids the same age as ours. They love and support each other in different ways now as the kids move on into adulthood. They have not only “run” the “deep” pattern, but also dug deep into their hearts to keep living and demonstrating their love. It touched me.
At the front of the church is the group of catechumens. They are studying the Catholic faith and will be baptized in a little over 40 days from now, at Easter. They are “going deep” as they cast their empty nets out into unknown waters. They too trust someone they are just getting to know (Jesus). He guides them to treasures ahead. Soon their nets will overflow. That they make this commitment, I am touched.
The director of this study group took the podium and offered prayers for each individual. But as she did so, she looked at each one. I mean really looked deep into their eyes. From where I was sitting several rows back I felt the love she has for them. It was absolutely radiating from her. She has “gone deep” in her spirituality and ” received”. She has “called” to nearby boats to come join in the “catch”. I am touched.
As I start to leave the church the woman next to me offered her friendship. Another parishioner took my hand in hers and greeted me warmly. I tried to catch up with a woman with PD who is cruising out the door with her walker. If I would have caught her I would have missed seeing this. A young son from the family that gave her a ride today gently placed his hand on middle of her back as he guided her to the family vehicle. It reminded me of a very gracious gentleman escorting a woman he respected and admired and wanted to protect. He has seen his dad do this with his mom, for sure. He already knows about ” going deep”. I am touched.
Lent starts this week with Ash Wednesday. From childhood we Catholics remember the tradition of having the sign of the cross placed on our heads with burnt Palm ashes. We try to experience a small amount of suffering by giving up something. Right now my nets feel light. Quite empty. What if I try something different. What if I “go deep” this Lent….trust this friend Jesus as he tells me exactly where to put my nets…and when my net overflows, show others they can ” go deep”. No need to give up. Most need to fill up.
DBS DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION surgery March 23 and March 28. Going deep on many levels. I better get working!