Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Spiritual Lessons from Super Bowl XLIII

Our bodies and our souls are deeply connected. The physical/spiritual divide is really a theological position made up by folks who thought that our bodies were bad or sinful, but that we had a better part, called soul, buried within us. But ask anyone about the spiritual challenges of enduring great pain, or about the physical warmth that is often experienced in moments of deep spiritual connection, and you will see that we are not so divided.
In fact, sports and spirituality are more connected than we often appreciate. And the Super Bowl is a great example.

It’s really national holy day that is about much more than who will be declared the best team in professional football. Like any sacred event, it brings people together to focus on a particular performance, which speaks to their hopes and aspirations.
Although not identical, football on Sunday and church on Sunday (or synagogue on Saturday, mosque on Friday, etc.) are more alike than most of us realize. It’s no accident that recreation and re-creation are the same word. When sports and religion are done right, we feel the fullness of our freedom. We really feel that we are renewed or in the words of Exodus which are recited as part of Friday night prayers and again before lunch on Saturday, “re-souled”.
Whether you are playing or watching the sport, you will be reminded of the amazing things our bodies can do, of the incredible capacity that we have as human beings, and how far we can carry ourselves and others if we train hard and work long enough. We can experience that sense of “being in the zone,” what psychologists call “the flow state,” of being where we are suppose to be, doing what we are suppose to do, with the people we want to do it with, and doing it all so well and naturally. If that doesn’t sound like a religious experience, what does?
This Sunday, over 100,000,000 people will create communities and celebrate, just as they do around religious milestones. Small communities committed to a particular team will connect to each other and to an international body supporting that same team, and ultimately, to everyone who loves the game.
And at this moment in particular, any opportunity to celebrate is really important, sacred even. And this kind of celebration is especially appropriate because it doesn’t cost anything to gather in front of the TV with friends and let ourselves cheer. It’s so easy to fall into thinking that every day brings new despair. It’s crucial and fun to remind ourselves that we still have it within us to scream for good things.
Whether we cheer for the Steelers or the Cardinals, the story of each team has something to teach us. The former would have/could have/should have moved out of Pittsburgh ages ago – it’s the heart of the rust belt, but they didn’t, they hung in. The Steelers are models of that kind of commitment which can see us through hard times.
The Cardinals however did move from St. Louis to Arizona. But we can learn from them too. They followed the growth curve of America and headed west. Sometimes we do need to relocate, to pull ourselves together and strike out for new opportunites even though that can be very scary.
These two stories are really two stories of America, and we can learn from both of them. Not to mention the importance of using this competition to teach ourselves and each other the difference between being a fan and a fanatic. The former loves his team but enjoys a great game no matter what, the latter really cannot see beyond his own team and cannot appreciate the good found in the other one. The parallel to other groups in our world is clear.
So this Sunday, even if you are not a football fan, gather some friends, get the junk food you most enjoy, and have a little fun. It’s the Sacred Bowl! I mean the Super Bowl.

  • Ruvain

    For some of us the Super Bowl is all about watching innovative commercials.
    Viva las mensajes@

  • Beagle Mom

    WOW! Amazingly profound!
    “re-creation and recreation are the same word.”

  • craig

    First let me say I am probably the only guy in America who doesn’t care a bit about professional sports. I do follow Gator football because I graduated college at The University of Florida so I do understand about being a football fan. I am amazed that as a society we have raised these athletes to hero and/or celebrity status.
    The players are overpaid and often commit crimes ,the team owners rich beyond most of our dreams hold cities financially hostage demanding newer and better stadiums on the taxpayers time with the threats of moving their teams. There are conflicting reports whether holding a superbowl in your city is financially beneficial or a financial loss.If you are “lucky enough” to live in a city that hosts the event traffic is a nightmare especially if you live near the game. The ticket prices are out of reach of most of the fans and even if you are lucky enough to get a ticket airline and hotel prices are often jacked up 100% or more. Sorry, but I just dont get it.

  • Your Name

    Apparently, you don’t get it, Craig. You’re focused on the negative and critizing what you don’t understand. While everything you said is true, so are the points Brad makes in his article. It could be different for you, and eventually the rest of us, if, one person at a time, we all started focusing on the benefits instead of looking at professional sports with such apparent disdain. Your outlook might change, then you might behave differently, then the situation might have a chance to be different. Tickets are too overpriced for a lot of us to afford, but I don’t have to buy a ticket. And I don’t feel picked on cuz I couldn’t afford one. Truthfully, I’d much rather watch the game at home with instant replay and commentary to help me follow it. That’s more enjoyable to me.
    As far as the hero status (while I agree that it is carried too far in some regard), I choose to look at it like the author suggests. That these people embody the good, the talent, we really long to see in each other. I couldn’t get out there and do what they do, even though I’d like to think I would have made a better ref call, or I would have run this way and not that, but that’s my own pride/entitlement taking over. I am glad they’re able to do what they do well. And, yes, I don’t like the fact that they make so much more money than an average person, but that’s my jealousy talking there. If I’m focused on the resentments I have, then, yeah, I won’t get the points the article makes. I won’t make the connection between the physical and the spiritual. Personally, I’d rather focus on the benefit I get from rooting for my team and the satisfaction of witnessing a good game, between good players, with good friends and loved ones nearby.
    Steelers, Cards, thanks for the experience! It was moving and well worth the time.

  • Reesale

    check out this site
    it might give some perspective

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