Sermon on the Mount

A coach (center, in white shirt) speaks to his players from on high.

On the summit of Piestewa Peak yesterday afternoon, a high school football coach delivered a message to some of his veteran players, a message that hopefully would resonate with all Americans and particularly with our politicians and corporations.

I was perched on one of the highest rocks, eating a deli sandwich before heading back down the steep and precarious trail.  It was then that I heard a loud voice.  I looked down to a nearby point where trail enters the summit area to see a young man in a T-shirt.  Across the shirt was written “Alhambra Football,” Alhambra being a Phoenix high school.

Scattered around the summit were maybe a dozen teenagers.  They were mostly Hispanic.  A trim black kid sat close to me.  I think I saw a few white kids as well.  These obviously were players, projected starters, probably juniors awaiting a football season still seven months away.

The “coach” asked the players to look around and take in the vista.  That vista opens in all directions.  The vast urban basin in the foreground which is Phoenix and its suburbs, surrounded by South Mountain, the White Tanks on the west, Bradshaws to the north, the McDowells to the east.  In the far distance you can even see Picketpost Mountain and Vulture Peak, both 60 miles away in opposite directions.  All of this, the coach said, are components of where you live, who you are.  Down below, you see little.  Maybe yourself and a few friends.

He asked the players to see the big picture, that they are all parts of something larger.  In this case, they are parts of a team, the Alhambra football team.  He urged them not to think of themselves as individuals.  Some of the players seemed to listen, others maybe not.  And soon, the group, young and strong and a symbol of our nation’s future, headed back down to the trailhead, back to everyday life.  But up here for a few minutes they had heard The Word.

For me and, I suspect, the rest of the 19 people I counted on the summit, it was a great message, a message of unity.  Striving to be all that our potential will allow.

I only wish our divisive politicians who lost in battle seem to get nothing done, and our corporations who send their jobs overseas and who in doing so diminish our society, I wish they would heed the coach’s sermon.

But my gut tells me, no.  We’re still a country in a period of deep discord with no common goals, just individual ones.  We’re all over the field, no teamwork, a successful season nowhere in sight.


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