It’s springtime outside I reasoned and somebody was trying to be cool, impress the chicks was my educated guess. I glanced at the windows to see if there were any marks or clues, no luck, too dirty.
I scanned the backyard looking for a perpetrator or cause of the noise. Windows don’t groan on their own after all. Over on the west side of the yard I spotted him – under the violet bougainvillea in the rocks sitting as still as a headstone, but eyes wide and alert.
A rattled but very much alive dove was trying to recover, not just his conscience, but maybe his pride as well. “You idiot!” I called to him from the open window with sincere sympathy.
“Springtime”, I thought to myself. It’s amazing how this season affects nature – all of it, but especially youngsters. As I pondered springtime and the idiotic actions it tends to evoke in folks, especially of the male persuasion, I remembered a day in school; P.E. class to be exact, my freshman year in high school.
Coach Berach, the P.E. teacher, was also the track coach and had me slated to run the 440-yard hurdles that year. This happened to be during a co-ed P.E. class that would last a couple of days. That was back in the days when P.E. was a required class. We didn’t know that he was secretly looking for talent to fill out his team.
We moved from event to event, girls and boys, and springtime was in the air… It’s truly amazing how dumb kids act, especially boys.
When we came to the low hurdles coach Berach called me out to demonstrate to the girls the proper technique for clearing the hurdle as efficiently as possible. I didn’t mind the spotlight, especially during springtime with a class full of girls, my chance to stand out from the crowd.
I backed up about ten yards from the sample hurdle, in a hurry and in the grass instead of the track. Confidence was high… I sprinted with determination and threw my left leg out in front of me.
The key is to barely clear the top of the hurdle and lower your torso over your lead leg as low as possible, simultaneously pulling your trailing leg so that after your lead foot hits the ground, the trailing foot strides forward so that it’s really just like a big step.
I’d cleared hurdles so often it was like instinct… except for the grass… and the chicks… I hadn’t quite hit full speed when I launched and my lead foot hit the hurdle and I toppled to ground in a heap. All hope of looking cool was gone… only laughter… What a dope… That’s how I know how the dove feels.
Our actions aren’t always pure and are often motivated by the wrong desires. I’d heard the verse from Philippians, but it wouldn’t even begin to register for years after that, “Don’t be selfish; don’t’ try to impress others…”, (partial NLT for effect).
I’m still learning that lesson and the hazards of springtime… me and the dumb dove that lives in my backyard with the dent on his head.