Football season in the SEC is now officially open. At one level, I see this as so much hooey. But, deep in my bones, it is exciting. As I left work on Friday afternoon, the atmosphere crackled like a festival. The FiJis (over at ‘Bama, those boys might be known as Phi Gams, but here on the Plains, they are Fiji’s) had the couches out on the lawn alongside the monster speakers that blasted us with a serenade somewhere between rock and country. Tailgaters were relaxing at picnic tables and outdoor folding chairs inside their spots that were marked with orange safety tape. Kids sporting football jerseys played on the sidewalk.

When I no longer work at the Library, I think this will be one of those scenes I will miss… it’s hard to explain the simultaneous thrill and peace that I experience on Friday afternoons in the fall, when the Tigers are playing at home. Life is good. All shall be well. The universe is in order.

It might be shallow. There are those who might take my enchantment with this mystery of being as sacreligious or heathen. But, I noticed that in today’s Gospel, Jesus healed a deaf mute, not by standing over him and praying but by touching him – up close and intimate – put his finger in the deaf-mute’s ears, spit and touched his tongue. That is getting close. That is being present in whatever way is necessary for healing. And so, I’ll enjoy my Friday afternoon experiences where I feel touched. I will enjoy the time where the joy and excitement, and sense of belonging to a community are palpable.

Oh, yes… in the South, football is alarmingly like religion.