I have to admit, if I am honest with myself, that sometimes I have grave concern for the human race. Now, it isn’t like, “These kids these days are just so rotten” or “the United States is just going to pot and we have to go back to such-and-such a time.” Many of the issues we have in this world are issues that have been around for centuries and just keep coming back around.
But there are days when I am concerned and my soul and heart feel heavy. Days where all I see and hear hate being spouted towards others, days when it seems like all people want to do is tear down the other, or the neighbor, or even members of their own family. There are days when it seems no one is willing to listen to anything someone has to say, even if it is just to understand their point of view. And there are days when the quest to be “right” and to “win” seems to trumpet compassion, fairness, justice, and love.
However, then there are two days like the two days I had this week that restore my faith in humanity, faith that reminds me that love and compassion and generosity are not gone, days when I am astounded by the capacity of people to care for someone else, even a complete stranger. Days that remind me that God is still active and present in the world.
The first of those days was the Coaches vs. Cancer event on Thursday night around the JV & Varsity Girls Basketball games between Boyceville & Glenwood City. I was honored to be the announcer for the event and just amazed at all the items that were donated and the people who came out. As someone who has lost both parents to cancer and watched many friends battle it, every cent is so important. But even more important is letting those who struggle with it that they are not alone, that there are people supporting them, even complete strangers. Over $6,000 was raised in one night and the event was very well done. Though my voice was basically gone when I got home, my heart was full of hope and pride for what was accomplished by our two communities.
The second of these days was today (I’m writing this on the 7th) as I got to participate in my first Polar Plunge. Last year I told Todd Ebensperger that I would love to be part of his plunge team for this year and so I joined up. I must admit that I was nervous about jumping, most especially being a fat man trying to get out of cold water. But when I went down to the event, I loved the positivity and all the great energy. I loved the sense of common purpose. I loved the big hug I got from one of the church’s Special Olympics participants, Brian Frieberg, both before and after the plunge. I loved our costumes as our team, Kayden’s Krusader’s (named for Todd & Teana Ebensperger’s son Kayden) were going as super heroes (I was Batman. Of course). I loved that I saw people of all ages there and loved that some of our congregation members were there to cheer us on.
I have to admit my adrenaline was pumping before we jumped and that, though cold, the initial plunge wasn’t too bad at all. It was a rush, especially as we sprinted back to get out of the wet clothes. But just hear the crowd cheering, to see Kayden and Susie and Brian in the audience, the people we were jumping for, just made it really, really fun and cool. Over $30,000 was raised and I know more is coming in and our team did our part, raising over $3,000, with $700 of that coming from many of you in donations to me.
The best part was seeing the smiles not only on the crowd, but on the participants. Of course, they were freezing, but they were also so jacked and full of spirit. It reminded me again of what can happen when people come together.
And that is the thing. We so often only see the negative in the world, live by fear and not hope. We only see the worst in the other or what bad might happen in a situation, instead of the possibilities and good things that might come. Events like Coaches vs. Cancer and the Polar Plunge remind us of the best of ourselves. They also remind me as a disciple of Jesus Christ that though I have days of despair, I also believe in a God of hope and a Savior who loves all.
May we live by hope, love, and compassion instead of fear, hate, and despair. For that we can say, “Thanks be to God!” Amen