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Life Lessons on the Green

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Life Lessons on the Green

Staying the course in golf—and in everyday life.
Thomas  Moore
Thomas Moore More by this author
Jun 17, 2010 at 10:00 AM

In my first year of playing golf, I was hitting balls consistently in the woods that lined the fairways in the New Hampshire courses near my home. One day I was with three good players and hit a long ball from the tee that came within inches of the hole. One of my teammates put his head on the green to measure how close the ball was to going in. I have never come that close again. That day I learned about the capriciousness and magic of the game.

My graduate school professor of religion, David L. Miller, taught me much about the connection between games and rituals. He says that games are much more profound than we imagine. It wasn’t difficult for me to go from playing golf to writing stories that border the regions of sport and the sacred.

Early on I told a few friends about these golf stories, and they assumed I would be writing teaching stories under the guise of golf. That is not my intention. I don’t write stories aimed at offering moral or spiritual lessons. I like stories as stories. If they hold up on their own, I’m happy. I think games do teach us about life and beyond, and I hope these stories offer hints at some of the mysteries involved in the game of life. But most of all, I hope the stories are entertaining. All art, I assume, helps us appreciate the deep mysteries we confront every day, and in that sense all art is theological.

These stories came to me one day when I had much more pressing things to do. But they were so strong and so consistent in their arrival that I had to write them. I think an author should never know fully what his or her story is about. I respected the characters and plots and scenes that appeared to me. I wished that some of them might be more explicitly “spiritual” and that a few might end differently. But they are as they came to me.

Maybe because I have written a number of “heavy” books, when I write fiction, the humor comes out strong. But I think good spiritual writing ought to be funny. Laughter breaks us free of our too serious secularism.

I started playing golf in earnest late in life, after a diagnosis of heart disease. I’m not a golf fanatic, and I’m not good at the game. But I enjoy it. I especially like playing at the unassuming country course across the road from me. I’m sure the stories emerged from all the thinking I do as I play, sometimes alone, on that rugged and hilly, unaristocratic, and unforgiving course.

In a sense, these stories are a game of golf. Read these 18 tales and you will have played a round. At the same time, you will have made a tour of the planets, as old theologies recommend. You will have met the “hazards” of life and maybe even accomplished the miracle of a hole in one.

I don’t want to explain it all away, but let me say that the phrase hole in one reminds me of the Zen circle representing the fullness of whatever has been completely emptied. A game seems empty, from a certain point of view. It is a waste of good time. Adult men and women chase a tiny ball around heaps of earth and occasional absurdly cultivated “greens.” All the while, they could be doing something productive. But from a spiritual point of view, this emptiness is precious.

Just think about that hole in the ground, the object of the chase. Like a kiva. An emptiness in the earth. The empty tomb. A portal to the underworld. A goal that is nothing. Like waiting for Godot. Like sitting at meditation. Like being open to life.

What metaphors! And how wonderfully Zen! After writing this I feel that maybe I should work less and play golf more.

About Author
Thomas  Moore
Thomas Moore is the author of numerous popular spiritual books including the New York Times best seller, Care of the Soul. He is a Roman Catholic and a Jungian psychotherapist. After the success of Care of the Soul and its compan Continue reading