What Curling and Reconciliation Have in Common

The winter Olympics, which just finished a couple of weeks ago, contain what has to be the most inspiring and heart-pounding sport in the world….


Well, ok, maybe not the most exciting, but it’s up there. This winter, I finally decided I was going to learn about this ice-shuffleboard so that I could get more out of watching it than the intermittent screams and incomprehensible commentary.

To be honest, it was really easy. All I had to do was learn a few new words—House = Target; Button = Bullseye; Hammer = Final Shot; Skip = Team Captain (more or less). I finally figured out whether the sweeping speeds the stone up or slows it down (the answer, for you curling novices, is that sweeping heats up the rough ice through friction, making a thin film of water that speeds up and straightens out the stone). I feel like I know the basic language and principles of curling pretty well now.

But if I thought for a second that because I Googled a few words I could expertly draw a hammer into the button for a hit on the other teams brick…well, I’d have another thing coming. My first time throwing a stone I’d tear a muscle and slip on the ice. Seriously, those curlers are flexible!

Even though we would never equate newfound knowledge with mastery of a sport, sometimes we do exactly that with other areas of life, even those we believe to be critical for living a good life.

In her book, Roadmap to Reconciliation, Dr. Brenda Salter McNeill shares about her consulting work with institutions that are making strides toward greater racial justice and diversity. She says:

"…I usually get fired when people or groups enter into…the preparation phase. Surprisingly, though, it is not because of a problem. Instead it’s because people are doing well!…Once they have passed through those first two phases, people feel more adept at dealing with the issues of racial reconciliation. However, what they fail to realize is that relational connections cannot be sustained without structural intentionality. Structures to support our efforts toward long-term reconciliation have to be established, and it happens here, in the preparation phase."

We are in the preparation phase Dr. Salter McNeill describes, in our merger with The Way. It’s easy for us to grow weary in this phase of our unity, which requires us to move from talking to action. Some of us are tired of the conversation about race, justice, and Jesus because we have this conversation in our heads on a daily basis when we walk out the front door into a world that racializes our experience. Some of us are tired of it because this process has been new and uncomfortable, stretching us in ways we’re not used to stretching. But right now is when we need to dig in and dig deep.

Learning a language and becoming conversant in a new way with each other does not make us experts. We need to put in the hard work of creating something new, something with structure and intentionality that will enable our efforts to last. And there’s no one I’d rather put in the work with than you, this community we’ve built together.

In Galatians 6:9, the apostle Paul says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

May it be so.