One cannot tell by looking at me now, but I was once a decent athlete. I had a great track coach in high school. Overton Curtis has since passed away, but my memory of his impact on my life stays on my “front burner.” He was responsible for taking this pudgy 15 year old freshman and turning me into … a contender. He worked us hard, but always reminded us that success was never more than fifty percent perspiration, and never less than fifty percent inspiration. He told us stories of great athletes that never amounted to anything because they lacked inspiration. He kept reminding me that even while short, I had potential. He lifted my spirits and my own expectations. The sad thing, though, I am not sure that I ever let him know just how important his faithful inspiration was for my own growth; both as an athlete and as a person.
Approaching this week’s Torah portion was difficult. There is so much happening in this world, and the portion is so, so rich. Granted, there has been no shortage of monumental news as of late, but two things that happened really struck me as significant. First, there was the controversy over where it might have been appropriate to bury the Boston marathon bomber. Secondly, on a much more local level, our local community college is expanding into another new campus, taking over the land formerly occupied by the Eastern State Hospital (our regional mental health hospital). In excavating the land for the new campus, the crews uncovered a relatively forgotten burial ground dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.