I have been listening with anticipation as updates have made their way into the media about The Crossings, the curling club and event center that has been proposed here in Savage.
You know the sport: the one where you slide a 44-pound chunk of polished granite down 150 feet of ice while teammates are sweeping with brooms in front of the stone to affect its path, and all the players seem to be yelling at each other but are simultaneously smiling broadly and enjoying the amity of the game.
A few years ago, a couple from our faith community who are avid curlers invited the rest us out to a learn-to-curl event at a nearby curling club on a Saturday morning. A year later, we held a similar event, and before long, we had about a dozen of us who were newbie curlers. Some of what I have learned in my quest to become a better curler aptly applies to the growth we find in our spiritual lives.
1. I grow by realizing how little I know. Learning a new sport in your 50s is a challenge. The body doesn’t seem to maintain muscle memory like it used to, and the muscles sure do remember in ways that they didn’t when I was younger.
But what strikes me most, as I learn more about the game’s strategy, language, techniques, etiquette and history, is how little I really know. Frankly, the more I know, the more I realize I don’t. And this is where the similarity to our spiritual life comes to rest.
In my experience, our maturity in spirituality comes not in knowing more about God or faith or my particular tradition but rather in being more fully aware of the vastness of the mystery and majesty of the divine.
2. We learn, grow and develop best in community. Faith communities can learn a thing or two from the curling clubs that have helped me grow and develop as a novice curler. Curlers love their quirky game and take great care in preserving it. But my experience is that they take even greater care in sharing it, teaching it, inviting others to learn it and enjoy it.
Each match is kicked off with a shaking of hands and an exhortation to each other, “Good curling!” And when the last stone is thrown at the end of a game, a book-ended “Good curling!” is shared.
One of our curling church members recently told me that the curling club has become a “third place” for him, a term coined by Robert Putnam for a life-giving social environment apart from the first place of home and the second place of employment or school.
In the same way, in our spiritual lives, a unifying place and group of people who support our growth and learning is vital for us.
3. It all originates from the same place (or two). Our spiritual beings are all rooted in the divine. There is a singularity and commonality of our shared existence in relation to the God. And so it is in curling.
These 44-pound polished granite stones are all quarried from an island, Ailsa Craig, off the coast of Scotland, or so I was told. I have come to learn that there is a second source of granite for certified curling stones from Trefor, Wales. To the question of whether it’s one or the other, the answer is yes. And so it is in our spiritual lives. We are wise to hold true to the commonality of the granite without demanding a loyalty to the quarry from which the source of life comes.
And so to your spiritual self, as you slide down the ice, sweep, or call a shot, I say, “Good curling!”