Well, I’m sad to say that our Michigan Wolverines did not win the NCAA Championship last night. Villanova was really phenomenal out there, so a big shout-out to their athleticism and drive. But I’m very proud of this Michigan team too. I imagine it’s painful and difficult for these players to get so close and then lose. My thoughts are with them today.
Last night, as I watched, I found myself pondering what it’s like to follow along when the energy is moving in the direction you desire, and then what it feels like when that energy shifts. In other words, I found myself thinking about momentum.
It’s an easy thing to ponder because momentum can be felt physically, even in the role of a spectator. When the Wolverines started last night’s game, they came out with such sharp, forceful, confident energy. They were ahead for the first long segment of the game. But then, when Villanova took the lead, that lead continued to grow throughout much of the game. As I simply sat there and watched, I felt my own body shift from energetic and confident to lethargic and sad.
Then as I went to bed, I found myself pondering that experience more. We often have moments where our energy shifts physically, just by the act of observing. I think about the news cycle, for instance. How often does our energy shift based on what we read and see? And how is that connected to hopefulness? When the news includes wave after wave of challenge, we might begin to despair and believe that very little can be changed. But when we see, for instance, the teenagers of Parkland connecting with other teenagers across the nation, we might feel hope and believe that change could actually be possible. It’s interesting to ponder these kinds of shifts.
And then, there are two other kinds of experiences as well:
There are are moments when we move from being spectators to being actors, working intentionally in the directions we hope. The momentum can shift many times, and our own energies along with it, but we stay committed, not because of the momentum of the moment, but because we believe in the work and vision.
There are rare but very real moments when we see some challenging writing on the wall, and surprisingly. . . we come completely alive in the inevitability of losing. We know we’re going to take a risk, and it’s definitely going to cost us. But it’s worth it. Truth-telling can be like that. (God bless whistle blowers). Or we come to recognize our finitude, perhaps, very concretely – we age, we receive a diagnosis, we lose a dream, we lose a person — and shockingly, we come alive with more vitality, recognizing what a gift life can be.
This is a resurrection kind of momentum. How completely counter-intuitive, shocking, surprising, and life-giving it is.