BY CLINTON PAWLICK
I brought the Pope with me to Sunday’s NFC Championship Game stuffed in a bag. A clear plastic tote of proper dimension and composition to meet the NFL’s “All Clear” policy. I’m glad he was with us because, in the end, we needed a miracle.
Let me explain. First, the Pontiff. Last December, my wife and I went to Rome. It was unplanned because what we had planned didn’t work. Our plans to have children together ended, as some dreams do, unfulfilled. Despite all the best attempts and medical intervention, we came to an end. Life’s strange that way. It might not work out as you hope, but it can still be beautiful. I have two boys of my own, and my wife is the most generous stepmom. She is everything I want. Genuine. Kind. Sometimes frustrated. But I know she loves my boys even through her own disappointment. And that kind of beauty is rare.
So we went to Rome. To live another life. One of travel and experience. Exploration. To open our eyes to the possibilities that are available to us. When we were there, I mentioned we should see the Pope.
“It looks like you just send an email,” I told her, peering over my guide book. “If there’s availability, you pick up tickets from this church.”
We were selected. We would have seats in St. Peter’s Square. “Why are you walking so fast?” she grumbled from behind me as we marched up a hill toward the church where we would collect the passes. All the while I was thinking what I would say if asked about my own church-going practices.
To be honest, I planned to lie. I generally go to the Church of the New York Times and a good cappuccino. During fall, I go to Seahawks games.
The priest did ask. Turns out, he was from the Seattle area, and my plan to invent a Catholic church (I was going to say St. Mark’s because it sounded legit) was foiled.
“Well, I said, I don’t go very often,” which I am sure he understood, correctly, to mean never. But he was gracious.
“Maybe,” he said, “this will be the start of something good.”
You see, Jen brought our 12th Man flag with her in her purse. Thousands of people convened in freezing temperatures to see Pope Francis. It was part religious celebration, part soccer match and part amusement park. Everyone was happy, and we understood each other through foreign words. In the end, a voice on the loud speaker, the interpreter, said that the Pope would offer a special blessing in case anyone had brought religious articles with them.
I watched as Jen tapped her purse.
I may be disqualified from heaven given my next move, but I took a picture. Jen spread the flag wide, and I snapped a photo. Most people wouldn’t know, but there, way in the background, is a little white spot. And that spot is the Pope.
So, in times of need or hope or want, I bring our 12th Man flag to the games. I drape it around my neck and I pray in my own way.
I’m not saying it was the Pope. Or my pleading for a miracle. But in a game in which it seemed we missed every opportunity until we couldn’t miss a single opportunity, it may have been in the bag all along.
Clinton Pawlick and his wife, Jen, live in North Seattle. They love the Seahawks, good friends, Washington reds, and their two cats, Malcolm and Ink Pot Pie.
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