football-crowd-in-stadium-featured-w740x493I remember when the Buckeyes won their last national championship. There was hoarseness the next day (it was QUITE a game) and there was ordering of shirts immediately. We were newlyweds, and we had a lot to celebrate.

Our wedding, in fact, had something of a Buckeye theme. Both my husband and I, as former students and current alumni, have gone to many, many games and love Ohio State in a way that, well, many others relate with.

But I couldn’t help but laugh in the face of the current national championship win.

It was a big deal, no doubt about it. We were up late with it on, and when it was on rerun the week following, you better believe we recorded it.

But there was a big difference this time. Instead of actually watching the game, I was working away on some projects on my laptop. My husband, to his credit, didn’t doze once, but he also didn’t shout or yell or even jump out of his chair (though there must have been times that he wanted to) — there were kids sleeping, and waking them trumped any excitement we may have had.

We didn’t have a house full of people or party food and we didn’t order our championship gear in the minutes following the game. There were no late night phone calls to celebrate with faraway fan buddies, and, while he was up late watching the post-game interviews, I had no qualms with just…going to bed.

Somehow, in the last ten years, we’ve lost the brunt of our Ohio State mania. Though we have plenty of gear—and a disposition toward scarlet and gray in all things—we also have three kids (with one more soon). Our fall schedules no longer revolve around OSU football game schedules, and our approach to March Madness might be better described as “accidental” than “intentional.”

We spend as much time (arguably more) cheering for our local school as we do for the Buckeyes. We’ve spent more money on local games and concessions in the last two months than we have at Ohio Stadium in the last twelve.

And I can’t help but laugh a bit at just how natural that is. It’s almost a maturity—though I think my younger self would have seen it as backward at best and pathetic at worst.

It’s not so different from the call we have to be saints. At first, it’s a lively and exciting endeavor. We’re idealistic and committed.

But it’s not long before life steps in and changes things for us. Our prayer time changes as our life situation changes. Our ability to concentrate in Mass becomes different as we cart along small people or attend at times that are not our favorites but are best for the family.

Life becomes a crucible instead of an adventure. At times, it becomes a wellspring of despair as we suffer and sorrow and wonder why in the world we bother.

Then there’s a moment of grace, the championship win. It might even sneak up on us, almost invisibly.

When did I start praying the rosary daily? How did I get to be an old hand at juggling a pew of people at Mass? Where did I get that ability to explain theology to toddlers?

I don’t know that I will ever be a saint, honestly. I can’t help but think it’s a flawed goal for me. And yet, no one expected Ohio State to win this year, either. From what my husband told me, nearly all of the professionals who “know” these things said we didn’t belong in any of the games we won.

Guess I can still be inspired by my favorite team, and even on an eternal level. Who says God can’t make me a saint yet?

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