Can a single swing of the golf club evoke a scene of biblical import? Or is it mere vanity to think so?
I’ve been pondering these questions for several days now – ever since I was the lone witness to a hole-in-one during League play.
A paradox, no? After all, if I am the “witness” – but not the “perpetrator” – then it stands to reason that at least two would have seen the event unfold. Alas, my opponent in the match has for many years been afflicted with a condition that robbed him of sight in one eye…and severely limits his sight in the other.
Somehow, Art still manages to play the game. In fact, he’s an above-average putter. But on the long shots, he’s utterly at the mercy of others. If we’re not watching, he has almost no idea where the ball will land.
So it was on Thursday afternoon: After launching a lovely baby-fade…in a high arc toward the green…Art did not stand admiring the shot (as most of his League-mates would). Rather, he turned immediately toward me, asking ever-so-plaintively “Where did it go?”
I assured him it was a fine shot – although due to sun’s glare, I couldn’t actually see where the ball had settled on putting surface. My admiration for his shot only grew as we headed toward the green. The ball was quite close to the pin, I told him – “a kick-in birdie,” I said…
…only to discover, upon further approach, that it was actually leaning against the pin – hovering over the void. Not a “tap-in”…but a “drop-in”…just as soon as Art pulled the flag from the hole.
Art had his ace. And I had my mystery to ponder.
A hole-in-one, literally unfolding in slow motion. Neither of us would have seen the thing – not all of it, anyway – had the ball dropped immediately into the cup after landing on the green. Instead, my one-eyed friend received the gentle grace of being present, and being close enough to see, this marvelous consolation.
No less weirdly, we were virtually alone in the moment. On almost any other Thursday, we’d have been part of a crush of League golfers – playing in a foursome ourselves, with foursomes impatiently waiting on tee boxes ahead and behind.
But not so on this day. Following a first-wave of foursomes, Art and I had waited a bit for other golfers to show on the opening hole…before deciding to play as a two-some. And that meant there was a golfer-gap all around us as he lifted his sweet shot into the air.
A singleton, followed by only the slightest of celebrations.
As the match wore on, we caught up to other groups – and I got the word out about Art’s accomplishment. He then graciously spent the rest of the evening buying rounds – while I continued to ponder the odd wonder of it all.
A nearly-blind man aces a hole…on an otherwise-crowded course…and there’s almost no one there to see.
Is it Wisdom to celebrate the Holy One’s presence in such an event? Today’s first reading suggests that perhaps we ought to at least consider the possibility:
Who can know God’s counsel,
or who can conceive what the LORD intends?
In just this way does God often break into our world – disrupting the quotidian routine with marvels so subtle they can easily be missed.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.