Prayer, Plain and Simple

What voices really haunt the troubled soul of Tiger Woods?

On Wednesday Nike released a commercial featuring the voice of Earl Woods, Tiger’s deceased father. In the stark, black-and-white clip, a camera zooms in on Woods who remains silent as a voice-over his father begins, “Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I wanna find out what your thinking was. I wanna find out what your feelings are, and, did you learn anything.” Maybe the fading voice of his father really does pre-occupy Tiger’s ever-so-disciplined mind. Maybe, but maybe not…

Perhaps instead Tiger has to endure inner echoes of the scolding worlds of Augusta National chairman Billy Payne. In his annual state of the Masters news conference Payne gave Tiger a stunningly frank dressing-down: “It is simply not the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here,” Payne said Wednesday. “It is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.” Maybe these words hang in the air of the chambers of Wood’s heart… One wonders.

Or does he hear instead the rounds of bar room barbs, the water cooler gossip, and the incessant late-night jokes spun from the fodder of his foolishness? Maybe comic ridicule are the words that really hit home, one liners from the likes Jay Leno broadcasted to the masses – maybe these are the private personal words he can’t shake, like Conan O’Brien jabbing: “Another woman has been linked to Tiger Woods and this one is 48 years old. Or as Tiger refers to her, ‘my senior tour.'” “AT&T announced that they’re thinking about dropping Tiger Woods as their spokesperson. Which seems unfair because AT&T has made millions off of Tiger just from his text messages.” “A new study says that 86 percent of kids who regularly watch TV can recognize Tiger Woods. Which makes sense, because he may be their dad.” Maybe Tiger laughs at himself as much as we laugh at him. Doubtful….

Then again perhaps Tiger hears the baffled, angry, heartbroken voice of Elin, his wife. Try and imagine that…

What of the pained words of 22-year-old Raychel Coudriet, who lives with her parents next door to the Woods’. Tiger slept with Coudriet in his office next door to one of his children’s rooms. Last year he ‘wooed’ her by inviting her to play golf and requesting she “clean his golf balls.” Raychel alleged confronted Tiger last month, accusing him of making her feel “violated”, to which he replied coldly, “sorry about that.” Does he still hear the haunting of her confusion and heartbreak?

Then again maybe Tiger is pulling up the distant droning chants of wisdom offered by his ancient guru, Gautama, the Buddha. PBS is running a new TV series on the Buddha’s life and teachings. Tiger may be watching and taking things to heart. Right. 

Better yet, let’s pray that tiger is still listening to the words of challenge from Fox commentator Brit Hume who challenged Woods some weeks ago to turn from Buddha to Jesus. Buddha Hume said offers no redemption, just the long painful journey of undoing. But Jesus offers grace, a chance to truly and finally stop, turn, release the past, accept forgiveness, and walk with new power into a new life. Perhaps Tiger can heed the words of Hume and ultimately of Jesus, words that offer him an end to his guilt and pain, words that lead to the The Word, a message that can echoes not just in our mind but from our souls.

That is my prayer for Tiger Woods on the day he begins his return to golf: I pray that Tiger Woods will hear the not so distant voice of Jesus… who as I suggest in my book The Karma of Jesus, does not lecture us to do better but instead exchanges his life for ours. Jesus then hears all the voices that once haunted us, and instead we begin to hear the tender voice of His and now our True Father, “I love you…”


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