The Energy of Grace

by Arthur W. Anderson

Ever hear of Moe Norman? He’s a Canadian golfer who at age 71 is still considered (even by Snead and company) as the world’s greatest "ball striker." A recent article in a magazine carried a story on his growing up with an autistic problem. Belittling golf as a "sissy" game, his father forbade him to play the game, breaking up his clubs to make his point. Young Moe got around this by hiding another set under the old front porch.

I saw him on the Golf channel recently. While two others watched him on the tee, he rhythmically and effortlessly banged out straight drives, pin-pointing balls to whatever distance he selected. A golf-pro friend of mine was with him one time and actually saw him do it. Since my recent golf experience was like eighteen holes of tiddley winks, I was impressed.

Even more impressive was his philosophy of life and golf which he spouted forth in guttural staccato, totally uninhibited. Here are a few snatches: "Such an easy game, people"…"We overwork"…"Don’t mess with your brain"…"Understand yourself better"…"Be aware"…"People don’t know how to relax"…"Winning is something you nurture"…"I gave myself a chance."

One thing he said gave me pause: "People are afraid of themselves!" Ouch! Being a kid for me was great fun, adventurous! Scrapping it out in sandlot football, fearlessly crossing a long railroad trestle in Duluth, and, one winter, sliding down the avenue by Lincoln Park just missing a street car coming along on Grand Avenue! Then as I began turning the corner toward adulthood I started to feel intimidated by cranky people, teachers, zealous prophets of the near end, those who had a lot of money, and important people. Graduating from the seminary was new freedom. But this was soon tempered by the sense that I was expected to please people, do the right things, think correct thoughts, and be a nice guy. Often I felt I was dying on the inside, fearful of singing the song God gave me, victim of the long lingering fear of myself.

I don’t know Moe’s faith. I wish I did. But he has a childlike heart, a warrior’s delight in a good battle, and pure joy in being himself. That’s the energy of grace and ministers like myself have just barely discovered it!