We are all creatures of habit, are we not? I often find myself doing the same old thing over and over again without much thought. Habits are hard to break, and often I repeat behaviors, both good and bad, just out of routine more than anything else. Such was the case when boarding the Packer charter two weeks ago for San Diego. I mentioned in the earliest of posts what great service Delta Airlines has offered the team over the years; the food is quite good, actually. But even before we can begin to smell the main course, we've had all sorts of snacks to enjoy while the team is boarding the plane and while the football equipment is safely stored below the cabin.
For the past fifteen years, I have automatically grabbed, without much thought, a bag of Lay's Sour Cream and Onion potato chips -- and not the baked ones, either -- and a king size Snickers bar to munch on while others are boarding the plane. On this particular flight, however, I noticed that the chips were replaced with large cups of extraordinarily fresh fruit; and the candy bars have been replaced with zip-lock baggies of vegetables! What's the world coming to, I thought? What sinister plot has taken over Delta Airlines?
"After further review," I've come to suspect that such changes were not implemented by Delta, but rather by Mark Lovat and Zac Woodfin, the Packers Strength and Conditioning Coach and assistant. Mark and Zac appear to be in the prime of life, physically. I've often wondered if they were influenced in their earlier lives by Euell Gibbons (I suspect they're so young that they don't even know who that [Grape] Nut was!). Mark and Zac are great friends of mine who take their work very seriously; I respect these two guys for all the healthy choices they make -- and their nutritional choices are just the tip of the iceberg! Two flights later, I was holding the door at Lambeau this morning for a your girl who was working in Packer food services. Actually, it was the smell that first caught my attention. This worker was navigating a cart to the team dining room that was chocked full with fruits and vegetables. Honestly, it looked like harvest time on Walton Mountain. As I held the door open for her, I did all I could do to refrain myself from raiding the cart: it smelled so great!
What a transformation! It seems as though Mark and Zac want the members of the organization to be around for a while. I certainly cannot complain! Their influence on me in just three weeks time has had positive effects. Now, I tend to think twice before giving in to the smells of Burger Kind and McDonald's drive thrus. I'm also trying to break the habit of raiding the vast abbey kitchen each and every time I pass through. I'm hoping to see some positive results when weighing in! But, I'm hoping also that such physical choice changes can also be a metaphor for other changes I can make, spiritual ones as well.
This morning at the Packer Mass, we -- and the Universal Catholic Church -- concluded Saint John's Bread of Life discourse. For the past four weeks we've encountered the disciples fixated on eating and drinking -- just to satisfy their stomachs' growls. Jesus reminded them that He is their Food, He is their Drink. At the end of these four weeks, this morning, Christ sets the tables not only with bread and wine, but an ultimatum: "What will you do with all the gifts I've given to you? Will you remain and give thanks and praise to God, or will you bolt, returning to former practices and look for other "false gods" that are unable to satisfy?"
For the first couple of trips with the team, my stomach has been growling a little more than I've experienced in the past. But I consider such a growl to be reminiscent of church bells ringing, a reminder that something important is happening here. Mark and Zac's concern for the physical well-being of the team is proving to have spiritual results as well: the sacrifice resulting in a stomach's growl is a reminder to me of all those whose stomachs are growling on a daily basis. It's also a reminder of the ultimate Sacrifice Christ offered to the world: mine pales in comparison. Making such connections, "I have come to believe and are convinced that Jesus is the Holy One of God."