During Lent, our pastor challenged us (as in the entire church membership, not just our family) to look for the Laughter of Love in places that are outside our normal sphere. We were supposed to go somewhere or do something that we had never done before or do not do often, and we had to be an active participant. He calls these experiences "Cultural Pilgrimages."
I have no problem, usually, going someplace new. It is the "active participation" that I get hung up on. I am an introvert and am more comfortable observing from the sidelines or the back of the room than I am being in the thick of things. But I did try . . . .
For those who know us, reading here that we are not a basketball family is not a surprise. We are from SEC country and football reigned in the town where Matt and I met. Moving to Greensboro 15 years ago and realizing that finding an SEC football game on the TV was nearly impossible was true culture shock. And we haven't been converted. There have been a couple of years that our team made it to the NCAA Championship (and won) and we followed along and were excited about their success, which we basked in and gloated over as well as any Duke or UNC fan. But then it was over and I just didn't care anymore. I barely register each year that the ACC finals are played in the town where we now live. But this year, Isaac brought home a coupon for buy one get one ticket free for the Women's ACC Tournament semi-final games. Matt was out of town that weekend and I wanted to do something with Isaac that was kind of special and different, so to the semi-finals we went.
I knew our tickets were for both games and I didn't really know if we would make it through. But Isaac loved it. We have no allegiance to any ACC team and Isaac picked the team we routed for based on their uniform or their mascot. He intently watched the game, tried to catch t-shirts, ate his way through a bag of kettle corn, and was surprisingly settled during the hours we sat watching the action on the court. Unfortunately, both teams we chose to support lost. (If you want to be sure your team is going to win, make sure we route for the opponent -- works every time.) I am not a basketball convert now (I could have left after 90 minutes -- 4 hours of basketball is a lot!), but I loved sitting with Isaac, talking about the game and spending time with him that was relaxed and removed from the everyday worries over getting homework done or running to the next practice or going to bed at a reasonable time.
So does this meet the requirements of the "Cultural Pilgrimage" as defined by my pastor? I don't know. It is definitely something I wouldn't normally do, especially if Matt is not dragging me along. I wasn't a participant in the game, but I cheered along with the crowd and waved my hands for the free t-shirts (because Isaac really wanted one). I spent time with my son and watched him enjoy an experience that was new and exciting. That is what I value about the day.
Since we had watched the semi-finals and actually knew what teams would be in the finals on Sunday, Isaac and I sat down to watch the last game of the tournament after church. Once again, the team we routed for lost (I'm tellin' ya -- fool proof system). But it was a nice ending to the weekend, for us at least.