Thursday, June 9, 2011

Just do it…

It’s NBA Finals season, for those who remain professional basketball fans. I think that number’s been declining since my teens; the heyday of Nike shoe icon Michael Jordan. Back then, I watched as many Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets games as possible. I even got to see “His Airness” in person once. He scored 39 points, decimating the hometown squad, but we didn’t care. We were in the presence of greatness, and we knew it. Since then, however, it seems the popularity of professional b-ball has waned, while NFL football has waxed like a candle on Christmas Eve. Nonetheless, I’ve watched a few playoff games this year, and am enjoying the final 7-game series. I don’t care much about the two teams competing- Dallas and Miami- but it brings me back to when the sport occupied a precious place in my heart.

I even used a sentence from Michael Jordan’s book as my ‘Senior Quote’ in the 12th grade yearbook. It read, “I can accept failure; I can’t accept not trying.” Easy words (and yes, for you grammar sticklers, a classic example of poor writing- double negatives being confusing and all) from someone who ended his career as the unqualified best. But even for us mere mortals, I think that idea applies. No one reading this, I’m certain, has succeeded at every venture they’ve attempted. You’ve likely went after many things for which success was far from assured. Still, you ‘just did it’ anyway. You tried, whatever the odds. And I’d bet there’ve been times- the best of times, as it were- things actually worked out!

I’ve pondered Jordan’s words a lot recently, anticipating this week in particular. As you may recall, I’m spending the week at St. Johns, having been selected to participate in a writing workshop for young clergy. Thus, all week, I’ll attend classes on metaphors and sentence structure and then, in the evenings, put those lessons into practice. A professional writer and writing teacher will be our guide, as well as our editor. I expect to see much red ink on what I give to her for judgment! But hopefully, I’ll come out the other side with greater grammatical refinement and increased authorial confidence. All in a tranquil, holy setting in the forests of Middle Minnesota.

I love writing. Probably an un-shocking revelation. But ask anyone who’s received an email from me. “Shane,” they’d say, “Sure seems to have lots to say…” Or, if you prefer, I’m long-winded; something I will concentrate on this week. Notwithstanding, it’s a special joy for me, most weeks, to sit at my laptop and hammer away at the keys, composing these letters or Sunday sermons with as much creativity and power as I can muster. That my job allows me this freedom is a great blessing. And yet, as much writing as I do, it took a long time for me to admit my love for it. Claiming to be ‘a writer’, or to even want to become one, felt pretentious somehow, or waaaaay over stating the case. I’d love, someday, to write books- or something- but haven’t had the courage or knowledge or skill set or…to try. Even applying for this workshop felt strange; as if that meant believing in something about myself that I had no right to believe. But when the opportunity arose, I eventually admitted I wanted to take a shot. I also remembered your collective encouragement and so ‘just did it.’ If I don’t say it enough, Thank You!

And who knows? Maybe I won’t enjoy this week. Or maybe I’ll learn I don’t have what it takes and will ‘be cured of the bug.’ But I hope not. I hope I’ll build more skills, discover even greater passion for the task and will return better at my job by being more confident and guided in this activity I love. The point is you never learn if you can succeed if you don’t risk failure. And in true ‘Air Jordan’ fashion, I’ve finally ruled out not trying.

So tell me, what is it you want to just do? I pray you’ll do it!

Grace and Peace,

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