My driver got out of jail for an extended time yesterday.
That’s “driver” as in “Big Stick”…the club most golfers use to tee off when they’re playing a par 4 or 5. Sadly, I’m not blessed to be among them.
Don’t know exactly what happened, but somehow I lost my “driver swing” about two-and-a-half seasons ago. The club that’s supposed to set the table for a decent score…has become for me a petulant teenager: Loveable only in the abstract, utterly unwilling to heed my direction, and seemingly bent on leaving only frustration and destruction in its wake.
So back in the summer of 2016, I more or less grounded the club. It never comes out of my bag. I use my 4-iron to tee off instead – settling for far less distance on a drive, but with far greater assurance that I’ll actually be able to find my ball.
Until yesterday, that is, when I played in the Links to LaSalle Classic. Like many fund-raising tourneys, it’s a scramble event: All four members of the team hit, but only the best drive really matters. The team proceeds to that spot, and plays out the hole from there.
Encouraged by my teammates – who are painfully aware of my struggles with the Big Stick – I decided to grant my driver probation…at least for a day. With their shots to rely upon, there was absolutely no pressure for me to hit the driver well…and who knows? I might actually be able to figure something out with my swing…and start playing like a real golfer again.
Alas, there was no such redemption with the driver in my (incompetent) hands – only more petulance and frustration. Even so, the day was not lost. In fact, our team did fairly well…taking home a second-place trophy in the rain shortened event – with each team member (including yours truly) making notable contributions to the outcome.
The merits of this golf lesson deepened for me today, as we celebrated the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Each a great saint in his own right, I noticed; but each also relying on the contributions of others to access the channels of grace in their lives.
Given my experience with the damnable driver during its one-day parole, I was particularly taken with the story we hear about Peter in the first reading:
On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.
It’s a level of security that would be appropriate for my wayward club, I decided. I’d like nothing better than to keep that driver under guard and locked away in double chains.
Still, I need not let this dogged humiliation define my game. Like St. Peter, God gives me teammates when I need them. And like St. Paul, perhaps God even gives me the persistent weakness itself – effectively asking me to loosen my grip from time to time, and allow the Holy One to play through me.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.