Today I did lectio on one of the psalms for the evening–Psalm 45–right after watching a hockey game. This is because my friend Adam had come over for meditation/lectio, and he had to dash off as soon as possible.
Psalm 45 is a hard psalm for me to relate to. It’s a wedding song, praising the groom’s military valor, splendor, and love of justice. But perhaps because I’d just watched the Chicago Hawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4, my thoughts drifted to the young (21 year old?) captain of the Hawks, Jonathan Toews (pronounced ‘Taves’), who had just been praised by the announcers not only for his tying goal, but for his steady hardwork and teammanship. Even the other team’s coach, who got to know Toews while coaching the US Junior Olympics, praised Toews for being someone special, someone who played every game as if it were his last. He is someone who seems to draw the best out of the rest of his team, to encourage the other players constantly.
My cousin Fran was another good captain. She won awards for best sportsmanship, encouraging even the weaker players in softball and hockey teams on which she’d played. She was an accomplished athlete, having won nationals in downhill skiing when she was a teenager, and later heading to Lake Placid to try out for the US Olympic luge team. While working at Northern Michigan University on the cleaning staff at the library, she also coached youth skiing, set off fireworks displays for town celebrations, organized gay and lesbian cultural events in the UP (of MI), deer-hunted, and played in a band. I admired her greatly. Her life was cut short when a new girlfriend’s neighbor murdered her in northern Wisconsin, after Fran and her girlfriend tried to confront the neighbor for stalking Fran’s girlfriend. He’s been in and out of jail, and wasn’t in jail long after this murder, because the judge (whom my father sensed to be homophobic) ordered a retrial that reduced the sentence. We all could picture Fran, small but strong, trying to defend someone she thought was in danger. And an aunt of ours said to me later: the man who killed her was a troubled loner, someone whom under other circumstances Fran would have tried to reach out to in some way.
The wedding sing in Ps. 45 announces, “Your children will take the place of your ancestors, and you’ll make them rulers throughout all the earth.” At Fran’s memorial service there were literally hundreds of people–not only her friends, but current and former students she had coached.
Fran didn’t have children of her own, but she affected many many people all the same. I wish there were more sacred songs to remember the kind of skill, courage and encouragement brought by women with vocations like hers–on or off the hockey rink.