05
Jul
21

The Day After

I went to the football game on that Friday night in October. Going to the game was an important ritual in the town where I grew up. In fact, in the 1960s in the midwestern U.S., it was an act as central and essential as going to church on Sunday mornings. 

[Except that the football game was ALWAYS a whole lot more exciting.]

This particular game was a nail-biter. The outcome would determine whether our team went to the playoffs or stayed home. In the last quarter, with 2:30 left in the game and the hometown Wildcats down six, our incredible junior running back, Ronnie Brewer, broke outside on a sweep around left end and rambled 62 yards for the tying touchdown. 

The extra point was good, and we held on for the last two minutes to win the game. The crowd – and the whole town – went wild. It was truly a memorable moment for all of us. 

But for me, the EXTRA memorable thing happened the following Monday at school. That year I was a freshman… new to the school and still awkwardly making friends and finding my way around. But as I walked down the hall toward my locker that Monday morning, I turned the corner and LITERALLY bumped into Ronnie Brewer… the hero of the previous Friday night.

Ronnie just stopped, smiled, said, “Excuse me,” and went on about his business, just like it was any regular school day in Hilliard, Ohio in the month of October. 

Which, of course, it was.

Little ol’ freshman me, however, was still living in the Golden Hour. I had not come down from the high of our school’s (MY school’s) historic football win from Friday. I wanted to keep milking the thrill of that moment for as long as I could, savoring the unbridled joy of it all.

And yet, here was the guy at the center of it all… just sauntering down the hall with his books under his arm, schlubbing along like any one of the other 300 students that day.

It wasn’t until much later in life that I was finally able to learn the great truth about mountaintop experiences; the truth that reminds us we can’t live at the top of the mountain. Sooner or later (and sooner is usually better), we all have to come down. We have to get on with business back down on the ground. 

Ideally, when we come down, we will bring something of the mountain back down with us. We use it to shape our flatland walking and talking in a fresh new way. But we have to understand that any lasting difference in the world is going to be made DOWN HERE and not UP THERE

There is the story in Matthew about Jesus taking three of his most trusted disciples (Peter, James, and John) up to the top of a mountain. While there, they have a profoundly life-changing, mystical experience. When the disciples expressed their desire to remain on the mountain, memorialize the place, and bask in the golden afterglow, Jesus instead hustles them back down the mountain and says, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9, NRSV). 

Today is July 5. For most Americans, it is the day after a day of celebration marked by picnics, parades, and pyrotechnics. For the original signers of the Declaration of Independence, it was the day they all stood around in a circle, looked at one another and said, “OK. Now what?”

Majestic, memorable moments are important. They often ignite a fire in our souls. They either articulate or remind us of a lofty vision of life. They can fill the gas tanks of our motivation and resolve to get out there, take a risk, and make a mark. 

But history wants to remind us that the real difference is made on the day after… the dull, regular, mundane, plodding, routine, endless road of putting one foot after the other until one day the vision becomes reality.

Abundant blessings;


3 Responses to “The Day After”


  1. July 7, 2021 at 11:49 am

    What a beautiful post full of wisdom and truth! And how awesome you met THE STAR of the hometown victory. And I’m so thankful for all your hustle for HIS Kingdom here in the flat lands! 🙏🏻💚

  2. July 21, 2021 at 1:47 am

    You provide so many good examples of Creative Nonfiction for my students. Thanks for that!


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