“There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the pine trees.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the coneys.”
Just now answered an e-mail from an anxious young college student who, just a day or two into the first week of her first year, threw in the towel on soccer. She decided not to play and quit the team. The truth is, it might have been difficult for her to make the team, a reality she likely hadn’t dreamed could be true.
I’d written her this summer and asked her to work for me this semester. She didn’t know if she could, she said, because she’d be singing in the choir and playing soccer. College isn’t the same ball game as high school, and balancing such time-consuming commitments is something few students can accomplish. She’s bright, very bright. Academically, she likely could have pulled it off; but the clock would have worked against her and all that busyness could well have left her frazzled.
No more. She quit soccer, and she was wondering about that job.
The thing is, that job I offered had already filled. Now she has neither soccer nor a job, and my heart goes out to her.
I remember giving up basketball when I was her age. I’ll never forget the odd sense of not going to the gym at four o’clock, of not working out, of not coming out of the locker room in early evening, freshly showered in the boisterous camaraderie. Basketball had been a way of life, and quitting, finally, after so many years, made me feel I’d lost my place.
That’s what she’s going through today. What had been a demanding ritual of pain and sacrifice, and a pageant of joy and triumph, is now shelved. It’s behind her. She isn’t that person she was. If she plays soccer again it will be with friends, and they will probably be the only ones who care.
In Dafur, people starve. In Lebanon, friends pull what little they can find from the rubble of what once was their neighborhood. On the Gulf coast Katrina bashed its way on shore, and some sections of that whole region still haven’t changed a whit from the day they were flattened. Today—and every single day--people suffer want and sorrow, some of them in great daily horror.
This kid’s sadness just doesn’t rank—and yet it does. She is not suffering the way some people are, but this morning she’s suffering nonetheless, realizing that somewhere outside her dorm window, soccer practice is going on. She’s left behind something she’d seen as her identity, her place. A big story in her life has ended.
Verses 17 and 18 of Psalm 104 are all about order. Right there on the immense canvas the psalmist is painting, he’s placed the birds, the wild goats, and coneys—all of them merrily in their places. “Rejoice in God’s wisdom,” the psalmist says; “he’s created all of this, and it runs as sweetly an some great Rube Goldberg concoction. Everything has its place and function, ordered by none other than the Creator.
Yeah, sure, sometimes cougars wander from their rocky crags and show up here in northwest Iowa, miles away. Sometimes we all lose our place, in a variety of ways. At times, we don’t know where we belong or how we fit, and things just seem askew.
This morning my heart goes out to a young lady who has walked away from soccer, a life-long passion. Something of what seemed a home is no more.
But I’m sure she’ll find her place.
That’s what the Bible says, and that’s what I believe, as did the psalmist.