There was an interesting “counter-flow” evident on the approaches to Chaifetz Arena, just ahead of the Billikens game last night.
Most fans were headed toward the entrances. But a not-inconsiderable number were headed away…back toward the parking garage. They were husbands (or Significant Others) for the most part, awkwardly toting purses that had been ensnared in the arena’s new “clear bag” policy.
We’d been spared that same long, cold and windy walk back only because of the kindness of strangers – other fans who’d noticed Gerri’s purse just as we exited the garage, and warned us that her bag would not be allowed in.
My first reaction to the news was not a pleasant one: I muttered (perhaps aloud) “Man, I sure hate this COVID-19 thing.” Only later did it occur to me that the Clear Bag Policy had nothing to do with the pandemic. It’s a salve designed to cure a whole ‘nother type of sickness – Concealed weapons? Terrorist explosives? Who knows what, exactly?
But Chaifetz Arena is definitely not alone in imposing the rule. Here’s what the Southeastern Conference has to say about a similar policy put in place at football stadiums across the league:
How does the new policy improve public safety?
The clear bag is easily searched and significantly reduces faulty bag searches. It also supports the Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.
A Clear Bag Policy is not the end of the world, I suppose. Still, it made me stop and think about the many simple things we’ve seen begin to crumble around us in recent years. I mean, really: You can’t even take in a college basketball or football game these days without being reminded of certain unspeakable dark forces at work, seeking to corrode the joy in our hearts.
So, does that mean the apocalypse is upon us? Who am I to say? After all, as Jesus points out in this week’s gospel:
“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
On the other hand, I think it is useful to pay attention to the signs emerging around us. And Jesus points us to one sign in particular this week – a sign not of despair, but of hope:
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near.”
To be sure, there’s lots of “hard wood” evident in our broken sinful world these days. But as Christians, we’re called to look beyond all the gnarly bark of everyday indignities…and even the hardened knots of seemingly cataclysmic events. We look instead to Jesus, in Whom new life ever emerges. In Him alone is the ultimate victory won.
In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that [the Son of Man] is near, at the gates.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.