Erev Rosh Hashanah 5776: “The 8 Things I Have Learned about Life and Teshuvah from the Seattle Seahawks”

There are many things that come with growing older. As I completed my 42nd year this past July, I continue to note the changes that occur as we get older. Our bodies don’t bounce back like they used to, our hairlines don’t bounce back like they used to.

One thing I have noticed, though, is that despite the conventional wisdom that we become more set in our ways as we grow older, there is the reality that our tastes do change. Things that were once avoided or ignored are now embraced.

Take, for example, lemon bars. I used to not be fond of lemon desserts. But now I love the tart and the sweet together. And so while I don’t think I will ever eat peas, I do have an affinity for desserts I used to avoid.

And another change in taste I have noticed as I get older, is a more deeply felt fondness for and an appreciation of the game of football.

As you know, I am a fan of the game of baseball, growing up with the Yankees and also turning my attention, regretfully perhaps, to the Mariners. Football was never my game. And though every Sunday my father would turn on the television to football—the Giants and Jets especially—I wouldn’t particularly pay attention. I would drift in and out of the den on those Sundays, and generally reserve my interest in football to the annual viewing of the Super Bowl, which was more a party than anything else.

In the past few years, however that has changed. Spurred on perhaps by the ascendance of the Seattle Seahawks, combined with our smaller Pacific Northwest community which results in a more tightly held relationship with its professional sports teams, I have become intrigued by and enamored of the game of football. I have found myself doing interesting things, like recording games when I needed to be at Sunday school or another commitment. Or listening to the game on the radio. Or watching highlight videos over and over again. And while mindful of the risk and violence involved in the game, where once there was indifference, I now marvel at the strategy, the athleticism, and the teamwork of the game of football.

On this Rosh Hashanah, this time that we examine where we have come and where we are going, how we have grown and how we have yet to grow, it is perhaps enough to say that with the passing of the years we do change. We do develop new interests, our capacity to learn and adapt is ever present. We are not set in our ways. But there is more to it than that. For we have the ability to learn as well, to glean from our experiences, our observations.

And so, as is my wont, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, I like to share with you things that I have learned about life and about teshuvah (repentance) in the past year.

I have stood here in the past and shared lists with you what I have learned from having a child, from having a backhoe hit my house, from hitting a car in a parking lot, from planting a garden, from Legos, from taking a sabbatical, from having brain surgery, from 10 years in the congregational rabbinate and so on. The list keeps getting longer.

And so, and with apologies to those who don’t like sports or feel that maybe sports analogies are too cliché, I present the eight things I learned about teshuvah, and life, from the Seattle Seahawks.

Photo from
Photo from

Number one: No one play makes the whole game. I will get this one over with quickly, but we can recall the final play of the Super Bowl. The Seahawks were down 28-24, and with 26 seconds left had the ball on the Patriots’ 1 yard line, a touchdown would have won the game, giving the Hawks their second consecutive championship. Russell Wilson dropped back to pass, and threw the ball into the endzone, right into the hands of Malcolm Butler of the Patriots for an interception. Game over, the Seahawks lose. It was an excruciating moment.

It is easy to say that the Seahawks lost the game on that final play, and we can debate if they should have given the ball to Marshawn Lynch to run it in (hopefully) to the end zone. But it is important to remember that the game was lost not on that final play. It was lost because of the sum total of everything that had transpired over four quarters of play. Every turnover, every score, every running play, every pass contributed to the final outcome. And while we can say, “if only…” about that last play that could have changed the outcome, we can ultimately say “if only” about any play of the game.

Our lives, too, are made up of many decisions, choices. No one action defines us. We commit on these holidays to do more, to grow, to move forward, to make better and different choices. Teshuvah is the act of saying what happened in my past is a part of who I am but does not necessarily define who I am. What defines me is how I write the whole story of my life, and not just one episode. No one play makes the whole game.

Number two: Play your position. Most sports have “positions”—players play a particular role on a team. But it strikes me that football has more specialized positions. While in baseball for example players play both offence and defense, in football players play either/or. And there are different types of defenders, for example. And beyond that, there are the special teams, even more specialized positions, people who are good at punt returns, or ball holders for place kickers.

Each player, then, has the ability to specialize. To find what he is good at and work to perfect it. And the teams work better when each player is individually able to perfect himself at his position. Rookie Tyler Lockett will work to become the best wide receiver, he won’t try to become the best quarterback, or offensive lineman, or even all around football player.

We can’t do everything, we all have our positions to play. We in our lives should try to specialize: There are things that we are good at, and things that we are not so great at. Our job perhaps is to find out what those things are, and work towards them. We try to become the best us we can be—that is, in part, the work of these High Holidays.

There is that famous story of Rabbi Zusya, the Hasidic master, which comes to mind: when he was on his deathbed he drew his disciples near and told them about the particular fear he felt. He said to them, “when I die and meet God, God will not ask me, ‘Zusya, why were you not Moses.’ Rather God will ask, ‘Zusya, why were you not Zusya?’”

Or as Richard Sherman was recently quoted as saying, in a New York Times article about the Seahawks and their mindfulness practice: “It’s simple here: Be yourself, play hard, and you’ll be fine.”

Find and play your position. And then learn and grow and strive to be the best at it.

And similarly, number three: While you should play your position, sometimes don’t. For me, the highlight of this past season was in the NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter with the Seahawks down 16-0. The Seahawks lined up to kick a field goal, attempting to score their first points of the game. After the snap, punter Jon Ryan, who was there to hold the ball for the kick, instead picked it up, broke left and ran with the ball, lobbing a pass to tackle Garry Gilliam for a touchdown.

It was a trick play, in which the Seahawks did something that was unexpected, a surprise. And it worked because those who carried it out were willing to break out of their traditional roles and positions to do something different. Punters usually don’t throw passes, and tackles usually don’t receive passes (indeed, their position names give pretty clear indication about what they do). But with ingenuity and practice, they were able to transcend these usual positions, do something different and score.

So too, as we find our positions in life, we sometimes need to transcend those positions to do something different, to grow in new ways. We need to move beyond our comfort zones in order to discover new things about ourselves and what we are capable. And that may be hard. But as I learned recently, there is no growth in the comfort zones, and no comfort in the growth zones. We have our roles to fill, but sometime our greatest successes come from the unexpected, by doing something differently and pushing ourselves.

And sometimes we are forced into new positions by circumstances. We may spring the unexpected on others, but sometimes the unexpected finds us. Here too we must remain flexible enough to do things differently when we need to, to respond to life’s challenges.

That play during the NFC championship might not have been the prettiest play, but it worked. And sometimes life isn’t pretty, but we make it work.

Number four: Play for your teammate. Thinking back on this past season and its successes, we may tend to forget that the Seahawks did not start out so strong. While they had a winning record after the first 10 games, they were at 6-4 and struggling. After losing to the Kansas City Chiefs to get to 6-4, there was a turn around, and looking back on the season, many credit the turn around to a team meeting that occurred after that game.

At this meeting, two things happened: one, some of those players who had not normally taken vocal leadership roles spoke out to rally the team. And two, the message that came out of that meeting was not just play better, or do your best, or try harder, but, simply, “we play for each other.” Keep your egos in check and “play for each other.”

Regarding that meeting, Coach Pete Carroll was quoted at the time: “We made a real nice shift and took a nice step forward to getting to where we want to get. Guys were totally giving themselves to one and another and they played for each other and it showed up. It was something that was most powerful in an team setting and everybody felt it.”

And after that meeting, they won the next six games.

In this life, we play for each other. We have our own paths, our own journeys. But to think that we are doing this alone is a fallacy. We live for ourselves, yes, but that is not all for whom we live. People depend on us and we depend on others. We live in community, in relationship. This is important to remember when we are struggling, because we know we are able to reach out for help and support. But this is also important to remember when we are succeeding, because we must remember that our success is not due solely to our own effort, but to the many people who have brought us to where we are, either directly or indirectly. We play—we live—for each other. Who do you live for? And who lives for you?

And as we play for eachother, we pray for each other. As we enter these holidays, we note that so much of the liturgy is written in the plural. We, not I. We have sinned, we atone, we reconcile, we commit, we thank. We.

Similarly, number five: the 12th man is just as important as the other 11. We may be familiar with the culture of the 12th Man: flags adorned with a big number 12 signify Seahawks fandom, jerseys with the number 12 are as available as that of any player’s number. The 12 signifies the Seahawks fan base—as there are 11 players on the field at any one time, the 12th Man—the fan collective—is the 12th person on the field and is meant to be as important as any other player. In other words, the team is complete not with 11 but with 12.

This is manifest in many ways. Although I haven’t been to a game at CenturyLink Field yet, the noise levels at the stadium are, from what I understand, tremendous, enough to throw off opposing teams. But in addition to this particular manifestation, the simple idea that the fan base is as much a part of the success of the team as any of the players on the team is a way of building connection, community and support.

Similarly in Judaism we have the notion of the 10th person. The tradition of the minyan—Ten Jews needed to make a prayer community—has ancient roots. It is not to say that one could not pray without 10, but 10 are needed for certain fundamental prayers such as the Mourner’s Kaddish–the prayer for those in grief–and to read the Torah in community. It is therefore a special mitzvah to be the 10th person, the one who completes the quorum, who makes the community.

But you can not be the 10 without showing up, and you can not be the 10th unless nine others also show up. We need to live our lives in community, each member of the 10 is as important as any other.

Aim to be the 12th Man, aim to be the 10th. Do not distance yourself from your community. For it is by showing up in community that we are fully realized.

Number six: Even if your suspension is lifted, it doesn’t mean you are innocent. Ok, so this one isn’t about the Seahawks, but about the Patriots. As you may have heard, this year the NFL confronted “Deflategate” a story so big it even made the Israeli newspapers when I was there a few months ago. Tom Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots was accused of deflating footballs to be used in the AFC championship game, keeping them below the limit of air pressure in order to make them easier to throw, and thus gain an advantage. The NFL through an inquiry determined that the Patriots had deflated the balls, and determined that Tom Brady, while he may not have deflated the balls himself, knew about it and covered up evidence. And, along with further punishment levied against the team, Brady was suspended for 4 games.

Upon appeal, a judge overturned the suspension on a technical point having to do with the players agreement and the league. But the question still remains about what happened. And while Brady got what he want—reinstatement—many others didn’t get what they want, an honest accounting of what happened.

The reinstatement is a technicality. It is not teshuvah. For teshuvah is less about external consequences as it is about internal reckoning. When we stray, when we do wrong, oftentimes there are external consequences. But sometimes there are not external consequences. But just because we may not get punished, or we may evade censure, that doesn’t mean our teshuvah is complete. To fully bring about teshuvah we need to be honest with ourselves, the inner work is the most important work.

When we are accountable to ourselves, we do that we will be able to make amends with others. When we are accountable to ourselves, it won’t matter if there were external consequences or not. If there are, we will be able to handle them. Because things internally would have been made right.

Number seven: Punting is OK. Football is unique in that it is part of the strategy and normal course of play to turn the ball over to the other team. In baseball each team takes turns in the field and at bat, hockey and basketball possession changes hands regularly. In football, you can choose to punt—to kick the ball to the other team to give them the opportunity to try to score.

One doesn’t just punt for the sake of punting, of course. A team will punt if they are in bad field position, unable to make a first down, or advance the ball downfield enough. To punt is saying its safer to give the ball away then try something too risky. To punt is to say, we have tried, we did not succeed, so we need to wait until another opportunity in which we have a better chance to score.

We too are going to try, and we are going to fail. It is a natural part of our lives. We are going to come up short, miss the mark, be in a bad position. And that is ok. We are going to need to punt—to give up, to modify our goals, to accept difficult outcomes, to admit that the course we have been pursuing is not going to work for us, and we need to do something different.

Punting is not quitting. Punting is a reorganization, it is a strategic decision in response to certain events, it is saying I need to regroup, my current course of action is not fruitful, so I need to minimize the risk so that I can find a new course to pursue.
Don’t be afraid to punt. It just might be what you need to do to ultimately be successful.

And the eighth and last thing I learned about life from the Seattle Seahawks: Football is a game of yards, except when it is a game of inches.

Yards, the unit of measurement (3 feet), is the fundamental measurement of football. A football field is 100 yards long. As one tries to get the ball downfield to the end zone to score, yards are fundamental. Ball position is based on the yard line. It is 10 yards to a first down to be able to continue play. Plays are measured by how many yards are gained. And individual statistics are measure in yards: passing yards or rushing yards or kicking yards.

One hundred yards is a long field. The greatest plays are those that gain the most yardage. Football is therefore in many ways a long game.

We too, play the long game. When we examine our lives, we can recognize and see the changes we have undergone, especially if we look over a longer period of time. We are not the same people we were ten years ago. And when we get stuck, when we begin to feel bad about where we are, we can also recognize that we will not be in the same place ten years from now. We need to take the long view of who we have been, who we are and who we can be. Change will come, teshuvah will work—we recognize this if we take the long view.

There are sometimes, however, when football is measured in inches. Sometimes, when a team advances the ball towards a first down and comes up just short, within one yard, the ball position is said to be 2nd down, for example, and inches.

Football is measured in yards. But there are sometimes when it is measured in inches.

And so too with us. Life is also a game of inches. While we look at the long narrative, and see how we grow and change over time, we also remember that those long narratives are made up of small moments. Every small moment is an opportunity for transformation. Every moment is a decision about how to act, a weighing of choices, and opportunity to do what is right or not.

There is a passage from the Talmud, found in our Mahzor, appropriate for this:

Each one of us should always consider ourselves evenly balanced, that is half sinful and half righteous. If we perform one mitzvah we should be joyous, for we have tilted the scales towards righteousness. If we commit one sin we should be remorseful, for we have tilted the scale toward sinfulness.

The small moments we create make a difference. And the small moments that happen to us also make a difference. We don’t know what can change our lives. A chance encounter. A story on the radio. These are little discrete moments have the power to fundamentally change who you are—something you learned or someone you met can change to course of your life, but only if you are open to it.

Play the long game, write your life’s narratives over a (hopefully) long time, remembering that just as things are now, does not mean they will continue to be. This is the work of teshuvah, that we can always reinvent, redo, renew.

And play the short game as well. We do what we can to affect change and teshuvah—in ourselves and in our world—when we make every moment, every inch, every encounter matter, and see each as a chance to learn, to grow, to change.

So, on these High Holidays, we echo another motto of the Seahawks: “I’m in.” I’m in.

Take the long view. Play your position. Break the mold. Be there for others. Show up. Go inside. Punt if necessary. And make every moment count.

Because every moment counts.

Shabbat Morning Quarterback: My Take on the Seahawks Loss

“The thing you are doing is not good.”

These are the words spoken by Jethro to his son-in-law Moses in this week’s Torah portion. The Israelites are settling into their new life since leaving Egypt and adjusting to being a newly freed community. Moses is adjudicating all of the disputes of the Israelites, who line up all day and all night to present their grievances. This prompts Jethro’s response, who advises Moses to set up a more efficient court system.

“The thing you are doing is not good.” These words are a variation of what has been repeated all week, after the stunning loss of the Seattle Seahawks in the Superbowl. In the final seconds of a thrilling game, the Seahawks found themselves down by four points with the ball on the Patriots one yard line. A touchdown would win the game. On second down, quarterback Russell Wilson dropped back to pass, and the Patriots intercepted. The game was over with a heartbreaking loss after being so close to victory.superbowl

What made the loss that much painful is the choice to throw the ball in the first place. The Seahawks have one of the best running backs in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch, known as “Beast Mode.” Lynch, who can barrel forward bringing defenders with him. Lynch, whose strength and skill is seemingly made for this type of play. Why did the coaches decide to throw the ball instead of just running it into the end zone?

Since the game I have read way too much commentary and analysis on the play. Some are calling it the worst call in Superbowl history. Others analyze the thought process and understand why a passing play might have been appropriate. One of the more interesting articles analyzed the call in relation to game theory. But in any event, whether it was a bad call, or a bad execution or both—the Seahawks came very close to winning a second Superbowl and blew it in the end.

Not long before the Superbowl, I came back from a retreat with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, as part of my 18-month Clergy Leadership Program. It was an amazing experience of prayer, song, meditation, yoga and study. And now, as I am back from retreat, I continue learning with a weekly hevruta (study partner).

[I should say that my hevruta is a rabbi in the Boston area, and he showed up to our weekly Skype session this week wearing a Patriots jersey. Sigh.]

The theme of our study is an examination of middot (character traits) that we are meant to focus on and inculcate within ourselves. The practice is to make us better people, and thus better leaders. The study is drawn from Jewish texts, mostly from the Hasidic tradition, but we also read a wonderful article by the contemporary spiritual writer Parker Palmer.

In that article, Leading from Within, Palmer identifies 5 “shadows”—or negative traits—that affect leaders today. One is—in a beautiful phrase—“functional atheism.” That is, the belief that responsibility rests solely with me as an individual. Our IJS teachers have presented us with five middot that are meant to balance the shadows. The middah that my hevruta and I studied this week that is meant to “counter” that shadow is bitachon, or trust.

Why trust? As I understand it, it is because when we live under the shadow of functional atheism, we operate under the assumption that we are the only one that matters. That whatever we do or don’t do is the sum total of everything, that it all begins and ends with us. But this is misguided, it is an ego response. Having trust—in God, in the greater system, in each other—allows us to understand that it isn’t all about us, but that we are part of a larger whole that works in ways that sometimes we can not fully understand. Having trust allows us to see beyond ourselves, and understand that nothing can be reduced to one thing, one act, one person, one choice.

So here is my Superbowl analysis: No game can be defined by one call, one play. In sports, we tend to need a “goat,” someone to blame when things go wrong. But that is the wrong response. The game could have been different at many different times. The Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw an end zone interception which could have been a touchdown. There are other plays that could have turned out differently, other choices that would have had different results. Just because they didn’t happen at the end of the game doesn’t mean they didn’t have an effect on the outcome.

That last play didn’t lose the game any more than it would have won it if it was successful. The Seahawks unfortunately lost because of everything that happened on that field. And heartbreaking as the loss was, we can have trust that a team is not just defined by one play or one game.

And there is always next season.

Sharing a Playbook? Rabbis and the Seahawks

Well, we know how things turned out last Sunday, don’t we.

In a spectacular display of prowess, the Seattle Seahawks dominated the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, winning the championship by a score of 43 to 8. Just like for the NFC championship, I was out of Washington at a conference during the game. Unlike the NFC championship, this time I had the opportunity to watch. There I was in a retreat center outside Baltimore with a gathering of rabbis, cheering on the Seahawks to victory.

The conference was the annual alumni gathering of the Rabbis Without Borders fellowship. I participated in the fellowship—a program of CLAL—two years ago as a member of the third rabbinic cohort. Then 20+ rabbis gathered several times a year in New York to discuss issues affecting contemporary culture and Judaism, and how we can be responsive change agents. Since completing the fellowship I have “graduated” to the alumni group, which meets annually to continue and deepen these conversations and connections. It is at Rabbis Without Borders where I have had some of the most compelling conversations about Judaism, the rabbinate and contemporary society.

OK, back to the Seahawks. Following the game, I have read analysis about the meaning of the win for Seattle, the power of sports to draw together communities and, most interesting, the on-field strategy of how the Seahawks won. I say this last one is most interesting because for me, I would normally and naturally gravitate to the first two (cultural) explorations. Looking more deeply at football statistics and strategies is new to me.

Going into the game, one of the well known statistics is that the Seahawks had the best defenses in the league. This was measured by the number of yards allowed over the course of the season. The Broncos on the other hand had the best offense in the league, measured by yards gained. It was the first time that such a match up occurred with the largest discrepancy between yards allowed by one team and yards gained by another. As the results showed, the Seahawks defense overwhelmed the Broncos offense.sherman

Interestingly enough, however, a major Super Bowl record was set during the game. Peyton Manning, the celebrated quarterback of the Broncos who already had a Superbowl win under his belt, set a record for most pass completions in a championship game. In other words, despite losing and not scoring beyond one touchdown and two-point conversion, Manning was able to successfully pass the ball downfield 33 times, the most in Superbowl history.

How can these two facts co-exist? The answer is in how the Seattle defense played. The defense didn’t put out an all out assault on Manning, but applied enough pressure that he resorted to short passes. And when those passes were made, a Seahawks defender (or two) was on hand to tackle him. The Seahawks defense was there, ready and waiting to make the play needed. On some plays it seemed that it was barely a second between the time a Broncos receiver caught a ball that he was hit and on the ground, resulting in little to no yard gain.

Back to Rabbis Without Borders. One of the overall themes to think about that I took away from the gathering was the overall role that we play as rabbis in the work that we do in light of a constantly shifting Jewish community. Demographics shift, sure, but also in reaction to the general culture shift we are experiencing. Identities we learn don’t exist on binaries anymore (i.e., you are either this or that), and how one constructs one’s identity is fluid and dynamic. The up and coming generations view things differently than the generations before. The questions these conversations raised for me are: Are we leading the way? Or just responding to facts on the ground? Or, is there even a sharp distinction between the two? (remember, watch those binaries!) And how do we serve everyone, with their own needs, interests, opinions and self-identification?

How do we do this work in light of these changing circumstances? Maybe we should be taking a cue from the Seahawks defense: We can exert the pressure and influence that we can, yet still allow people the space they need to move forward. And just be ready to meet them where they are on their journey.

If we do this, then unlike in football, those we meet are sure to win, not lose.

The 12th Man and the 10th Man

Last Sunday I headed down to LA to take part in a spiritual retreat, a wonderfully intense week full of song and silence, meditation and prayer, movement and stillness. It was an experience on which I am still reflecting.

But before the retreat began, there was a moment of despair when I realized that I would be out of town for the NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. I knew I would miss the excitement and intensity of being in Washington, with the excitement around the Seahawks and their stellar season growing to a fever pitch.

But I dutifully made my way to Seatac airport, but not before purchasing and donning a Seahawks shirt. The Alaska Airlines terminal was fully decorated, including arches of Seahawks balloons lining the path to my gate. Airline personnel were dressed in team colors as well, and upon boarding it was confirmed what I first heard as a rumor–priority boarding is not only given to families with small children, those needing assistance and military personnel, but also to anyone wearing a Russell Wilson jersey.

As I arrived in LA and made my way to the retreat center, a new reality set in: I was not going to be able to see the game at all. I had thought that maybe I would have access to a TV–kickoff was a few hours before the retreat started–but none was available, phone reception was spotty, and I was not going to be able to watch.

While we were supposed to maintain radio silence during the retreat I was able to find out the score. I knew the Seahawks won but no details were forthcoming. It was not until I got home that I was able to watch recaps and highlights, including the spectacular game ending play, followed by the whole Richard Sherman brou-ha-ha. On to the Superbowl. But I still had this lingering disappointment of not having been able to watch the game.

So why the disappointment? I’m not even a huge football fan; my football watching has generally been relegated to the Superbowl and the occasional playoff game. I’ve been to one professional football game, and my affection for the Giants growing up was more of a nod to the local team and did not compare to my genetic devotion to the Yankees. (And I also preferred baseball.)

But I’ve easily adopted the Seahawks as the local team, happy to be counted among the 12th Man.

And it’s this idea that I find so compelling. The 12th Man is the term used by the Seahawks to describe the fan base. Originally used by Texas A&M University, the term refers to the fact that 11 players are on the field at one time for a team, and the fans collectively make up the 12th. What I like about this idea is that the implication is that the fans are not just there to support the team and root them on, but are seen as an integral part of the team. Thus the fans are not just connected to the team, they are a part of it.

On one level this is manifested practically with the tremendous noise and even minor earthquakes generated by the spectators at Centurylink Field, which is said to unnerve opposing teams. But beyond that, it is manifested in a general sense of camaraderie, communal connection and, dare I say, spirit of meaning generated by feeling a part of something greater.

The 12th Man reminds me of another idea, from our Jewish tradition: the 10th Man, or to be more correct, the 10th Person. The number needed for minyan, a Jewish prayer quorum, is 10. Ten adult Jews are required to recite certain prayers, and therefore the number is the minimum required for a group of people to be considered a community. [And those prayers are some of the most vital to the community, including the Mourner’s Kaddish and the public reading of the Torah.] Some consider it a special honor to be the 10th person, to arrive at the synagogue to be the one to “make the minyan.” The 10th person is not a bystander or a supporter, the 10th person is what defines that community. To be a part of a minyan is to be a part of something larger, to transcend oneself. And because the presence of a 10th transforms the entire group, it allows others to transcend as well.

The feeling of excitement and attachment to the Seahawks is palpable. Seahawks gear is everywhere, flags and signs are in many windows, local stores and state offices encourage dressing in Seahawks gear before game day. The other day Ozi, in remarking on the preponderance of Seahawks imagery everywhere, asked, “Is it like this in other cities as well?” The answer I gave is that in a smaller sports market like Seattle and Washington State, with fewer professional sports–and especially with a recently decamped basketball team and a moribund baseball team–the effect is magnified, and the connection felt that much stronger. There is more of a recognition, perhaps, that each individual is a vital member of the community.

As with football, so with spiritual community. Each individual is a vital member. Show up and wear your colors.