Chapter 18

 
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18     SUMMER

 

Golf is a humbling, hard game. Good days are followed by bad ones. Good bounces are followed by bad bounces. Some days the putts drop; other days they all lip out. Their dad was naturally humble, and a modest career and modest home did not tempt this, though his well-read intellect did. The first golfer had been very successful in business and politics, and embraced golf to help keep pride at a minimum. One for the first golfer here. Three all for dad and the first golfer.

Golf is a social game, and he now had many fond memories of trips with brothers and cousins. These had let him really get to know them as adults, hard to do at infrequent family trips or reunions with little time and too many other people around. While both dad and the first golfer highly valued family ties and relationships, making friends was a first golfer strength and source of happiness. Another for the first golfer. Three for dad, four for the first golfer.

Long before he had played Cypress Point, he learned this game helped cultivate gratitude. Especially as he got older, he realized more and more what a privilege it always was to play, and he was grateful he had enough health, wealth and time to do so. And unlike driving in Boston where he sometimes wondered if he would ever see a polite gesture or maneuver, he found gratitude expressedoftenbymostothergolfers. Gratitude, and its companion courtesy, were zebras in Africa on a golf course – while rare elsewhere, they were abundant there. Both his dad and the first golfer had deep reservoirs of gratitude. Both had risen above modest, even poor backgrounds, which led to at least a wading pool amount of gratitude. A deep-end amount would come from experience and perspective, and searching for the silver lining in life. The first golfer ran in circles of very successful people, and gratitude could be strained in that ambitious, competitive crowd. Dad had not, but then envy could be its enemy. Dad gets the slight nod here since he did preach and practice it a bit more. Four all for dad and the first golfer.

A last lesson had wider application. While not the first time he had learned this, it was meaningful to relearn it now. It was the power and value of hope. He had started this journey by considering, embracing, and then believing the thought he could get better. Surely hope was a key to his dad and grandfather rising above their original conditions. It helped them aim for a better place and to work hard at the current mundane tasks, believing this would open later doors of opportunity. The first golfer ended up leading a major car company after starting out as a stenographer. Dad became a lawyer after four children and several career misstarts.

While trodding along these meandering paths, they could have accurately complained life was not fair. Would it be better if it were? Maybe no one would then actually value fairness, or others might lose motivation to achieve. Certainly, hope alone does not take anyone to the corner suite or to Cypress Point, so it cannot really overcome unfairness. But hope can absolutely, without reservation, help anyone rise above their current status and reach a higher plain, which may just be the satisfaction from merely striving alone. The virtue of persistence is an incredible byproduct of the vice of inequity. 

Perhaps this qualified them to join the robed society of Boney’s Pulpit at Cypress Point. They could be ambassadors of hope, and be living witnesses that real, meaningful change was possible regardless of someone’s current position. And maybe this was the only message conveyed by transparent caddies during the round with their uncle, one that both his dad and grandfather would want to pass along. Five all now. Two hands of reasons why both men must have been there that day.

Days later, he felt there was one more. Their dad’s death was just the beginning of a turbulent period for the two brothers, typical of what life seems to serve up to everyone at some point. A wrenching job loss, commuting out of state for a year, a move after hoping they were settled, a divorce, and worries over teenage children filled the years they were trying to play more and better golf. Knowing what was coming, the powers in the firmament may have sent these two messengers to start them on a path that would lead to the winning-lottery-ticket-moment of playing Cypress. And years before this, someone or something prompted Goodman to invite a young, struggling preacher in a foreign land to play golf. It was a sign they were watched over and loved, and to help them keep going during some dark days. Hard times bring experience and fortitude, and are therefore not usually solved by divine intervention. But comfort and reassurance will daily fill the email boxes of our souls if we do not unsubscribe or put up filters.

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A daily message of their youth, in the days before email, was the gift photo from the first golfer, which filled a whole wall in their basement. After playing Cypress, the two brothers made the short drive from the club to finally visit the scene they had looked at for years. As they stood by the Lone Cypress on a cliff by the sea on the Monterey Peninsula, they did feel very blessed to be there. For one, they had moved beyond where they had grown up in many ways, just as the first golfer had hoped, and for this they were thankful. They did not understand why this had happened, but they wanted to express gratitude until the day they did. They also knew what they considered blessings were often trials and vice versa, so they felt thankful for challenges too. But most importantly, whatever blessings and trials had come, they felt they were known, that there was a tailored plan for them and their happiness. And they were grateful for the bestowal of hope such knowledge brings.

Perhaps faith, hope, and charity are an equation with commutative properties, and not just a list. Like all math and science principles, it is an equation that needs to be learned and practiced to be understood and applied. But also like such principles, it is a description of real life, of something inside all of us waiting to be cultivated and brought out. They could help be the sowers of this message – one bright and full of light that generates power and energy. And a message that could help those in the winter days of their lives, where there is little sunlight and it is hard to get out of bed, to come over to summer days of hope, where sleep is a burden and long daylight hours are still too short.