Stations of the Cross

New Monuments’ proxy circuit is closer than Jerusalem or the nearest Roman Catholic church.


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Of the multitude of Stations replicated around the world, the Old Man has stopped at a host, including:

St. Bernard, Mt. Lebanon PA
St. Thomas, Bethel Park PA
St. Michael the Archangel, South Side, Pittsburgh PA
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York NY
Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, Galway IR
St. Adalbert, Hannover-Herrenhausen DE

(Confession: The Old Man was once miscast as a Catholic.)

I. Condemned to death.

Coach: Every stroke should be a matter of life or death. Alone with your skill set, with practice time over, it is too late to make excuses.

Player: A death sentence right from the start?!

Coach: Try not to think about it. Focus on your next shot. Each miss is public mortification. The soldiers represent your playing partners. They want to get on with it. It can be painful to consider their betrayals; their thoughts are already on the next cross to bear, their own next shot or sales pitch, rather than on your travails.

II. Given the cross.

Coach: It’s your turn to keep score. No fudging or accepting bribes from apostates. Pay close attention to everybody’s play. It’s not all about you.

III. First fall.

Coach: After an embarrassing hook, the club falls from your hands. Nobody seems to want to help you. The soldiers are interested in gambling on the outcome of each hole.

Player: They accuse me of slow play.

IV. Meet Mother.

Coach: Look for a friendly face. Visualize your mother. She cannot stop the hurting, but it helps to see that she is on your side, that she is suffering with you. She understands and cares.

Player: I still worry about my future and about my control over it.

Coach: You can’t solve all your problems by yourself. Everybody needs help, though many deny it. Even if you have only the friendly figures depicted on your golf club headcovers, turn to them during rough patches before facing the target.

V. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross.

Coach: The soldiers are impatient for you to reach the elevated green to be crucified. They may have alcohol in their systems. This round is taking longer than expected.

Player: Simon of Cyrene, according to the Rules of Matthew, Mark and Luke, was compelled by the soldiers to help to carry the cross. Who is the caddie in my parable?

Coach: Blessed is s/he who aids to bear the club.

VI. Veronica wipes the face.

Player: A woman emerges from the crowd. She cares for me. She wipes blood and sweat from my face and from my new hybrid club. She says little gestures like hers will change my game.

Coach: That’s what she said. I bet the saleswoman in the golf superstore who sold you the hybrid made a similar claim.

Player: Could I have dreamed the woman in the crowd?

Coach: Real or not, an ideal savior can be useful on a golf course.

VII. Second fall.

Player: I lose a second ball before the Turn. My clubs grow heavier and heavier.

VIII. Meet the daughters of Jerusalem.

Player: I meet a foursome of sad women delayed by slow play ahead. I spend a moment with them, offer encouragement –

Coach: Even though you have been abandoned metaphysically by your playing partners and there is a sinister sensation in your right ankle after the last follow-through, you exhibit sportsmanship. Good man.

Player: I can usually remember that people lose balls or are searching the horizon for the snack cart. I try to respond to them even when I am preoccupied with the same worries.

Coach: Golf is a balancing act.

IX. Third fall.

Player: After another catastrophe on the tee, the driver falls from my hands.

Coach: You nevertheless continue to hope to make positive changes in your life.

X. Stripped of garments.

Coach: The soldiers throw dice for the contents of your golf bag. Their jokes tear wounds open once again. Bystanders make fun of your equipment. They tease you and challenge you to perform a miracle for them. They’re unaware that you are about to perform the greatest miracle of all!

Player: A hole-in-one!

Coach: Wrong answer. Too many golfers get things out of perspective. They think they are God’s gift.

XI. Crucifixion.

Coach: The soldiers judge by skin color, intelligence, income level, name, handicap and equipment manufacturer, to name a few criteria. They forget that we should live as brothers and sisters. They use harsh words.

Player: Sounds like me at times.

Coach: You find it easy to look for something that isn’t important and make it very important.

Player: What are you driving at, no pun intended?

Coach: Have I hurt you or caused pain?

Player: You are paid to do that!

Coach: It’s called practice.

XII. Die on the cross.

Coach: This is the toughest hole on the course to think about in advance. It isn’t going well. A double bogey is in the cards. You think you’re finished. Your playing partners think you’re finished. What now? Can you turn things around after such a setback?

XIII. Deposition.

Coach: Your cell vibrating in your pocket while you stand in the bottom of a bunker resonates on a couple of metaphorical levels. It must be the Golf Widow. Dinner will be late. On the way home, you have to pick up Junior at piano practice, a prescription at the pharmacy and necessities at the supermarket.

XIV. Laid in the tomb.

Player: Feeling claustrophobic in another bunker. It’s hard not to look back at my lies, golfing lies and other types, without regret. This bunker feels particularly deep. I’m surrounded on all sides. The flag, my destination, must be up there somewhere. In my darkest hour, I have forgotten its location on the green.

XV-XVIII. Resurrection.

Player: I call it miraculous that I continue to play at all. I don’t want to miss the closing holes. Are they as transfixing as reported? My appearance of renewed confidence amazes my playing partners. They aren’t disciples by a long shot, but there is hope.