last night’s bengals and bills game was a game-changer.
i am not a football fan and generally am not tuned in at all to football. my husband and those with whom i have always lived and loved are. yesterday’s game generated lots of excitement for lots of reasons and so for some reason, i found myself snugglin’ in just at the very moment of darmar hamlin’s fall.
to witness that moment and the response to it has been moving…
…as in, i believe there was a shift in public consciousness. or, there is an opportunity for it, if we stay awake to the power of what has transpired and how/why the story is unfolding as it is.
i’m reminded here of dr. king’s question during his last sermon: “what does it take to stay awake during a social revolution?” a question that haunts me often when there feels like a BIG moment collective experience has inspired a big collective reaction…i know likely because of my desire for a response (vs a reaction) that moves and transforms.
i want this moment to be one that moves me/us, transforms me/us, awakens me/us. so i come here, to writing as an act of bearing witness.
last night, from 8:55-just a bit before 10pm EST, i witness acts of prophecy.
in the immediate aftermath of hamlin’s health crisis, all scripts were mute. there was no precedent. those contributing to the public narrative–sportscasters and analysts and reporters–were left to find their own way in a time with very little information and a lot of strong emotion. we were watching espn’s coverage and Booger Macfarland, Adam Schefter and Suzy Kolber were the commenters. it was a lesson in how to be present to the truth of here and now.
Macfarland led the way. his capacity to be clearly with the truth of happening–the life and death situation hamlin was facing was strikingly powerful. and painful, as Kolber and Schefter struggled, clearly with different capacities. Kolber (a White woman), clung desperately to the role and purpose of the “show”, attempting to direct their attention on the game and what was next and how the teams would “gather to focus”. Macfarland (a Black, previous football player) was like an oak tree. he refused to participate in that conversation; in fact, he refused to even look at her. i appreciated that from him so much as i could also hardly bear to hear what felt like sacrilegious blah blah blah blah at such a holy time.
Macfarland unapologetically stayed with the truth of the moment. he called for prayer–over and over and over.
this, during NFL Monday night football, at 8:57pm, moments after Hamlin’s crisis. he, along with the players themselves dropped into the truth of the moment–dropping to their knees on the field–and into prayer. Schefter joined Macfarland’s call for prayer, for reverance; Macfarland’s clarity demanded it. eventually, Kolber joined them. relunctantly, hesitantly, with fear…she eventually found them there, in the truth of the moment.
ultimately, so did the NFL and the Player’s Association as they affirmed what already was.
because Macfarland’s prophecy–his bold truth-telling–began insisting the game be suspended. he stayed with the reality of what was unfolding and the only thing that mattered: the health and wellbeing of Hamlin, who was not just a football player but a human being. he kept calling us all out into our own humanity. he especially called out the NFL.
despite what many folks are claiming was the right thing for the NFL and the Players’ Association to do in deciding to suspend the game, the game was already suspended.
a small debate broke out in our house around who was making the decisions. there is the illusion of power and last night, there was the illusion that the game (of NFL and of LIFE) was being called by those “in power” in the NFL.
i think this is both hilarious and also maddening. actually, i get pretty pissed at this. we miss the point!! last night, the power was not with the NFL!
for me, i witnessed clearly the power of prophecy in Macfarland and countless others who refused to turn away from the truth of what was happening–the players, those in the stands, those on social media–and in so doing, generated a power that transformed a Monday night football game into a collective experience of prayer.
we became church.
beyond any religion. beyond any faith. across race, class, teams.
we were humans, together.
the NFL didn’t decide this. the Players’ Association didn’t decide this. we decided. Macfarland decided.
and actually…taking it just a bit further…we didn’t decide. it wasn’t like Macfarland went into deliberation, took a poll, gathered information. his choice was different.
there was willingness to listen, be present to the truth, and to then respond. there was action. and it was Spirit-led.
to witness, experience that kind of power…
let me/remember this moment. let me/us be moved by it.
amen and ashe.