Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Breaking Through

As I ran some errands while my boys were in school yesterday, I happened to drive past a different grade school. In the parking lot, I saw a group of boys, slightly older than my own, holding hands in a straight line. A few other boys several yards away looked like they were waiting for something.

Immediately, I knew what they waited for. They waited for the call. They stood at the ready to be summoned for battle. They awaited their destiny. They prepared to answer the challenge of Red Rover.

It's a moment every child must face. How each answers the Red Rover call defines them forever afterward. They may bask in the praise of their companions or may never be spoken to again, labeled an outcast.

Still caution must be thrown to the wind. They must commit. They must release all judgement and all consequence from their minds. They must fear no end and must show the enemy no mercy, for no mercy will be shown unto them.

The technique must be perfect. When the gap is hit, it must be hit hard. Any thought of soft tissue should be dismissed. A burst of speed and a lowered shoulder separates the winners from the losers. I've seen countless soft tissue injuries in my day. Kids who led with their stomach in an ill-conceived leap never seemed the same again afterward. They lived to fear the call, sometimes they avoid facing Rover ever again.

This timeless ritual, at once beautiful and ugly, elegant and violent is performed recess after recess. There is no questioning Rover. There is no other way but this. This is how it has always been. This is how it always will be. Each combatant stands at the ready, prepared to sacrifice themselves for the greater cause.

Though forces unite against them, seeking to keep them from breaking through to another part of the world, they race ahead, unflinching. Rover is here and now. It is unknown when the call may come again.

In that moment, that headlong rush toward an unknown outcome, we are perfect. We are as we are meant to be. We are children, answering Rover's call. Not knowing if we will reach the other side, we let go. To face Rover and survive is to have truly lived.

No matter what happens in your life, remember this always. You have faced Rover. You have come over.

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