The apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. . . and now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:11-13).
When we were kids we made up most of the games we played. “Mother, may I”; “Bum, bum, bum, Here we come”; “Red Rover, Red Rover, we send Billy over”. There were many other games too numerous to mention. But back then, we were kids and play was fun.
I was reading from a book called “CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE PET LOVERS SOUL” and ran across a story about “Playing” by Gary Paulsen. Buy the book and you will enjoy all 403 pages. I quote it and it is still hard for me as an outdoorsman to believe.
“During the Iditarod, the dogsled race across Alaska, a rookie driver came upon a musher who had stopped his team and was gazing down a hill with rapt attention. The rookie driver stopped to see what the other man found so absorbing.
We were looking down on a frozen lake – one of the Farewell Lakes. But it wasn’t the lake that held his interest. Below and to the right, a group of four buffalo were standing on the shore. Two of them were in the grass at the edge and the other two were out on the ice.
“Somebody told me that there was a herd of buffalo here, but I hadn’t expected to see them along the trail.” He said.
“Yes,” I told the other musher. “Buffalo, I know. They told us . . . . “No – watch.”
I turned back, thinking frankly that he was around the bend. So it was buffalo – so what? Then I saw what he meant.
The surface of the lake was bare of snow and the two buffalo out on the ice were having a tough time of it trying to stand. One of the buffalo on the shore backed away from the lake, up the sloping side of the ridge, pawed the ground a couple of times and ran full bore for the lake.
Just as he hit the edge of the ice, his tail went straight up in the air. He spread his front feet apart, stiffened his legs and slid away from the shore, spinning around in a circle as he flew across the ice.
When he slowed to a stop he bellowed, a kind of “Gwaaa” sound, then began making his tortuous way back to the shoreline.
While he was doing this, the fourth buffalo came shooting out on the ice, slid farther (also tail up) than the last, making a louder noise, and started back slipping and falling. I couldn’t believe it and blinked rapidly several times, thinking I was hallucinating.
“No – it’s real,” he laughed. “I was passing when I heard the bellow and came up to check it out. I’ve been here an hour, maybe a little more. They’ve been doing this the whole time. Great, isn’t it?”
We lay there for another half-hour watching them play. The object seemed to be who could slide the farthest, and each of them tried several times, tail up, happy bellows echoing on the far shore of the lake as they slid across the ice.
Buffalo games . . . who would have thought it could happen?
We lived in Canada for a few years. I learned there was a basic difference in me and the buffalo. I used skies and ice skates and sleds and when these were not available, we would just run and hit the ice and see just how far we could slide.
This is the weekend where millions will be watching the professional football playoffs. In fact as I write this column, millions are watching Alabama and Utah play in the Sugar Bowl. By the way, Ole’ Miss just won in the Cotton Bowl with a record attendance of more than 82,000 folks watching.
Tomorrow the pros begin their playoff system that will lead to the Super Bowl to declare the national winner in pro football.
It is somewhat amusing to read of the full house watching a Bowl game last week when the weather was 20 below zero. One man noticed that his coke had frozen from top to bottom.
So what did Paul really mean when he said, “When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me”. Could he have been talking about the spiritual journey that each one of us is traveling? Or maybe Paul was talking about me when I would be on top of 13,000 feet of mountain, ready to head down on an intermediate slope to the nearest check point three miles away.
I certainly agree that in many ways I still have my childish toys and foolish games. Maybe that’s why Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10)