Fill My Cup
YHWH told Moses to tell the entire Israelite community these things: Be holy, for I, YHWH, am holy.~ Leviticus 19:1-2
Trophies are tokens of some great accomplishment. The trophy for winning the Super Bowl of Birding is a bird sculpture in Swarovski Crystal, so it has intrinsic value apart from the award of winning it. Because of its value, it is housed at the Massachusetts Audubon Joppa Flats Sanctuary. If you visit there, take a look and notice the name of the winner of the third event, the Wicked Pishas. Yeah, that’s my team. That’s not the only competitive birding trophy bearing the name of a team I was on. In the World Series of Birding, the trophies bear not just the team name, but the names of the individual members. So, if you visit Cape May, New Jersey, and look carefully at the trophies for third, second, and yes, first place, you will see my name. In the category of most obscure trivia ever, I am the answer to the question, “who is the only person to be on a winning team in both the World Series and Super Bowl of Birding?” (Yes, I know that it sounds more impressive than it is.)
The fun difference between those two trophies is that the Urner Stone Cup (for winning the World Series of Birding) was a traveling cup when I was on the winning team. That meant that I got to take it for a trip. It went to a number of birding hot spots with me, showed up at the compilation for a local Christmas Bird Count, was used to hold water for a blessing of the animals service, and it’s first stop was at Slack Tide Brewery in Cape May. I had passed the brewery a number of times in the week prior to the World Series, but never found it open when I had a chance to stop. So I made a point of stopping on my way home after the awards ceremony. While sampling their beers, I got into conversation with the bartender about the World Series. He asked to see the trophy, and who was I to refuse? So I brought it in and when he suggested serving me an Angry Osprey IPA in it, what was I to do?
This was not the first or last trophy to serve as vessel for a celebratory drink (just Google stories about the Stanley Cup) but I understand that some may see what I did as a degradation or defilement of the cup. Sanctity is something that we ascribe to objects, it is not inherent. The trophy is only a symbol of the victory, but like any symbol, we hold it in esteem and should treat it accordingly. The problem lies in defining what actions are appropriate and inappropriate regarding items we revere or hold sacred. Take, for example, lands that are considered sacred by the people who live there but are desirable by those who would make a profit. When an athlete kneels during the National Anthem, they are using the sense of sanctity to send a message about fairness, setting two moral foundations at odds hoping to create change. Questioning those things we unquestioningly consider sacred might help us all be a bit more tolerant of the beliefs of others.
Prayer: O Holy One, help us to value what symbols stand for more than the symbols and to see our cups filled to overflowing with the sacred. Amen.