Way over here (across the map of the U.S.), this Executive Director is aching for a professional golfer who is blessed to be alive this morning, but undoubtedly in physical and emotional pain. He is probably experiencing shock and disorientation, maybe feeling overwhelmed and dealing with a scrambled sense of next steps, all while feeling pressure to give some kind of response to a world of people who care about him without personally knowing him.
I count myself as one of those people caring, intensely deeply, without knowing him, for Tiger Woods. The Great Tiger. I am a golfer who was taught the basics of the game at age 12 by my grandmother. Much later, I taught my three sons the basics of the game. I watched them excel at and love the sport and the life that developed in and for them through the sport. Together, we have watched Tiger’s game and his life, cheering and aching for him. We’ve been inspired by him. We’ve felt loss when he’s been out of the game. We’ve hurt for him when – what for the rest of us would be private – personal human failings have been spread across the news. In some way we’ve even also been thankful for the reminder to think about whom we worship.
This morning, I can’t shake the ache for Tiger’s current setback. I am reminding myself not to overlook the fact that Tiger is alive. The vehicle and its airbag saved him. He has leg injuries, not brain injuries. And yet, we have to honor our times of grief and numbness. How frightening and horrifying that must have been for him, and for the neighbor and first responders. Let’s just sit and say and feel “We are so sorry, Tiger” for a while. Tiger has shown us his strength, discipline, and resilience in the past and I assume Tiger will muster those again. He has children who need him – his own, and a world of others whom he helps through his charitable work. Even my sons will keep watching him and relating in new ways, as they continue to live their own golf dreams and their own lives with their wives and children.
In addition, I am drifting to thoughts that relate to this work at this special place across the map – Transplant House of Cleveland. I find myself thinking “Money doesn’t solve everything.” The wealth accumulated by Tiger or anyone doesn’t prevent accidents. Or mistakes. Or pain, or agony, or horror, or post-traumatic stress.
I recently received a call from a past guest of Transplant House. Bob is now a widower. He and his loving and much-loved wife Marilyn had been with us for a very long time. Bob recalled those months, saying “It was a time of life when we huddled together [he and several other families who were with us] and we took care of each other. You can’t buy that. [Pause. Sniffles.] There isn’t enough gold in the world to buy that.” “Thank you, for everything you did.”
Money doesn’t solve everything.
It is part of my work to ask for money – from the guests we serve and from philanthropists. I don’t “like” to ask for money, because money and our relationship to it are as personal as our medical records. I know I am crossing into very tender territory when I bring money into a conversation, whether we are discussing employee wages, contractor fees, or our mission’s reliance on philanthropy.
In my personal and professional lives, I have learned that money does link to opportunity. But money does not solve everything.
Tiger will get the medical care he needs, and he will have the professional services to recover, rehabilitate, and keep his private life as private as possible. But money can’t buy the “soul soothing” he needs, and the deep, spiritual and psychological coping and healing that is as important as the physical. Tiger and all of us have to summon a “nourishment” and wisdom and spirit that are very deep within us. He must find that ever-flowing stream of connection to a whole different type of gold that helps us live into our circumstances, discern where help is needed, or where change must happen, or where freedom exists, and use those things to be all we can be for ourselves and for the world. How many times have we watched someone living a thriving life against many odds – even radiant in their living – and we’ve said “I don’t know how they do that.”
For those who don’t yet know about the work of Transplant House of Cleveland, this “flow” is where we come in – in the journey toward improved health. There are no medical professionals on site here, routinely. We are a community of deeply-caring people who are intentionally radically-welcoming and though flawed individually, we are collectively very accepting as a body. We need charitable contributions here, and I will continue to find courage to ask, with great respect for those who make the sacrifice and do give. I will continue to feel at a loss for how to adequately say thank you. But money has deep impact only when the spirit is also very alive. Thank you to the people, including and especially the patients and family members who stay with us, who make this place the best idea of “home.”
Today we will think about Tiger and many others as we continue to cultivate the setting for deep healing. We will welcome a health coach into our support of the spouses, parents, and friends who are here taking care of “their” patients. This is a new offering in a growing array of efforts to be with our guests in the way they need and to accompany them on the path to their next version of wholeness. These human-led efforts are VERY important here. We hope the spirit of this place spreads across the map and all around the globe today and always, as we offer ourselves to this part of the world.
Namaste. We bow to the divine in you. All of you.