In one of my favorite tunes from my college years, Joni Mitchell sings: “And the seasons, they go round and round, and the painted ponies go up and down. We’re captive on the carousel of time. We can’t return, we can only look, behind from where we came, and go round and round and round in the circle game.” There certainly is a cyclical feel to the passing of time, here in the Midwest where we experience all four seasons in their splendor. Yet, the new campus minister at the Newman Center –Erin Duffy – speaks of spirals instead of circles. Because each time we hit fall, or spring or winter, or SPRENKE time, we have moved a bit farther down the road of life. We’re not exactly where we were the last time.
So I find myself thinking on the edge of this spiral called the Msgr. Sprenke tournament – “What’s the same and what do I hope to be a bit different.”
What is the same: Those are easy to name: The excited faces of the athletes as they make their mad dash to the center line under the lights once their name has been announced. The succulent smells of BBQ’d pork kabobs wafting over the field. The pride our Men’s Club members feel in putting on a wonderful and successful tournament. The “bitter ender’s” seated in lawn chairs under the deck of the garage, telling stories and laughing long after the lights have been turned off and the majority of folks have gone home. Current and former parishioners catching up on life along packed sidelines.
What I hope would be different ‘this spiral’? I think three things in increasing order of importance: That the press would cover this “good thing” happening so consistently in North County as vigorously as they have covered the deficiencies in the Normandy School District. That there would be zero incidents of parents making less than stellar choices around their intake of alcohol, or the way they model good sportsmanship on and off the field. That the experience of community and belonging so at the heart of these days would spill over into increased attendance at mass – that those who never miss a Sprenke week-end BBQ meal would make the same commitment not to miss the meal of all meals – the Lord’s Supper.
With apologies to Joni Mitchell, it seems true that “The Sprenke’s, they go round and round” – a bit different each year – but always such a source of blessing for this community.