Years ago I taught at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, NC. At that time the school had some great basketball teams. I figured if I was going to relate to my students, I’d better brush up on the game of basketball So I asked one of my students to recommend a good book on basketball. He did better than that. He loaned me one of his. I don’t remember everything I read in that book, but I do remember the first chapter entitled, “Stance.”
The book pointed out that stance was crucial to basketball. Before you even touched a basketball or thought about dribbling and shooting, you had to practice your stance. The proper stance, said the book, increases your chances of being a good player. The book described various elements of the stance—how to position your
feet on the floor, bend your knees and hips, hold your arms, hands, shoulders, and head. Then it illustrated stance with a few pictures. Through practice your stance becomes so automatic, you hardly have to think about it anymore, and you can concentrate on the finer aspects of the game. I verified all these facts with my 15-year-old grandnephew, Cameron, who’s a very good basketball player. He added, that when he first learned to play the game, the coach was always yelling, “Butts down, backs straight, hands up!”
This information made me wonder: As Christians, do we have a unique stance in the world? Do we have a particular way of standing, holding ourselves, and moving in the “game” called life? I think we do. After a little reflecting, I came up with these five components of our Christian stance. There are probably more.
1) Prayer. Our Christian stance is rooted in our personal relationship with God. This means we consciously spend time with God on a regular basis. We think about God, we talk to Jesus, we ask the Spirit for help. We also listen to detect God’s presence and direction in our lives. God is very real to us, even though many times we have to accept God’s “realness” more on faith than on tangible feelings.
2) Reflection. We Christians don’t just live life. We also reflect on life. This means we pay attention to what’s happening in our life, our work, our relationships. We periodically pause and appraise our thinking, our attitude, our actions. We reflect also on the larger community—our neighborhood, parish, city, country, world. We nourish our reflection with input from family, friends, books, homilies, (and even blogs!)
3) Community and altruism. The Christian stance is essentially communal and altruistic. Jesus brought people together. He also repeatedly challenged his followers to love one another. We Christians do not live isolated lives. We believe our lives are deeply intertwined with the rest of the human family—as well as with the animals, plants, and natural resources of the entire earth community. We also believe we are called to be attentive to others—especially those in need. That’s why headlines move us, stories engage us, and people who are hurting stir us to action.
4) Hope. We Christians are people of hope. Simply put, we believe a better world is possible. Though we do not deny or gloss over the very
real evils and injustices in our world, we believe in the ultimate triumph of good over evil, love over hate, life over death. Jesus promised us this—by his life and teachings. What’s more, our hope is not passive. We are actively partnering with God to bring about that better world in our homes, workplaces, parishes, neighborhoods, and wherever God calls us to be.
5) Joy. And lastly, our Christian stance is joyful. A scowling, cynical Christian is an oxymoron. This doesn’t mean we Christians have to be grinning all the time. No. But it does mean even when we experience life’s sadness and sorrow, we still maintain that “joy is the underlying pulsation of our life.” (G.K. Chesterton) We have staked our claim on Jesus who suffered cruelly out of love for us on Good Friday, AND who rose from the dead in glory on Easter Sunday.
If we are struggling with our faith or even our life, then maybe we have to identify a component of our stance that needs “practice.” Hopefully in time our Christian stance becomes second nature to us, and we are able “to play the game of life” with greater meaning, strength, effectiveness, and joy!
What do you think of these five components?
Are there other components you would add?
PS: Many of you said how much your enjoyed “The Piano Guys” last week. I forgot to mention that the men are all Mormons. They are all husbands and dads too.
Good one on “stance.” I like the concept in Christian living.
I would add meditation. Just resting in the God’s love has become an important part of my prayer life.
A good addition, Kathleen! Thanks for writing! Sr. Melannie
I wanted to share something with you – My 5 year-old granddaughter is in kindergarten at a Catholic school. She had the following conversation with her Mom: “Jesus died and then rose again from the dead” “Yes” “and He does this everyday at Mass” “Yes” “That can’t be good for His health!” Deep thoughts !
This is a great story, Jeannie! Little kids say some marvelous things! Dolly
My “stance” has been improving over the years, and I am so thankful for this. You bring so much joy and love in your blogs, I’ll bet Jesus and most of the saints read them too. Thank you Sr. Melanne!
Dear Mary, I never thought about Jesus and the saints reading my blog! Who knows?! Sr. Melannie
Thanks for the reflection and for the memories of Gibbons’ basketball teams—there was nothing like the energy at those games!
Dear Annie, Yes, you were there with me back in those “good old days”–only you were a student and I was a teacher! Thanks for responding! Melannie
Sr. Melannie, I enjoy your blog. You have so many good points for us. We have to take a “Stance” for the Lord in our life. It can be alarming at times but what we do for Jesus is so gratifying… He loves us… I played basketball in Jr. High–it rang a bell for me with what you said…
How nice, Dorothy, that this blog “rang a bell” for you, a former basketball player. Thank you for writing! Sr. Melannie
Hi Sr. Melanie, This one is a keeper for sure! As a middle school basketball coach and a Gibbons Alum I enjoyed it. I also shared it on the Gibbons Alumni Facebook page for others to enjoy as well. I will think about basketball stance in a whole new light. Thank you!
Dear Laura, I was thrilled to hear from a Gibbons Alum! And from a current basketball coach. Thanks for passing my blog on to others. And thank you for responding! Sr. Melannie
Thank your for this, and all your blogs. I really appreciate the everyday, ordinariness linked to the God moments they remind me of. I especially liked this one on ‘Stance’. I am preparing to lead a workshop on ‘The Rule of Life’ and the invitation to consider our stance really connects to this for me. It will feed into my reflections. Thank you.
Dear Claudette, I appreciated the way you connected this blog on stance with your upcoming workshop on “The Rule of Life.” Good luck with the workshop! Sr. Melannie
“And even blogs”. Especially Sunflower Seeds blogs.
It was such a joy to meet you last week at the day of prayer with the Avilas at Borromeo, Sister. I have read you for years in Living Faith that a very dear friend has gifted me every year for eons. So greatful you have added this blog to ponder every week.
Looking forward to reading Everyday Epiphanies which you so graciously autographed.
Can’t wait to see what you will write each week! Thank you for all your efforts. It must be difficult some weeks.
Welcome to my blog, Sunnie!It was good meeting you last Wednesday. I enjoyed my time with the Avilas. (For my readers: the Avilas are wonderful group of women who pray and work for vocations to the priesthood and to religious life.) Thanks again for writing, Sunnie! Sr. Melannie
I am slowly reawakening my christian stance. I have been much too hunched over lately. Thank you for these precious reminders.