Great sporting events draw you in with the fact that someone is going to win and someone is going to lose, and no one really knows for sure which team will emerge victorious. It’s a bit of an ancient battle scene re-inacted for a commercial audience. Heroes, underdogs and even tragic losers emerge out of the story, giving everyone someone to cheer, criticize, or sympathize. There’s nothing like losing yourself in a great game, especially for us guys.
I believe that we all long to be a part of a bigger story. Probably because most times it feels like our lives are overwhelmingly mundane and ordinary. We find great movies, books, or sporting events in which to lose ourselves. Still, we don’t so much lose ourselves, as we allow ourselves to be swept up into the grander story that these things offer.
Samson Society has allowed me to be a part of a bigger story than just my own. Sure my life has been intertwined with a few dozen other men, but instead of losing myself in their midst, I feel like I’m finding myself. I’m finding out who I am by hearing myself tell my own story. I’m finding out who I am by hearing my own story told by other men. I’m surrounded by guys who I am cheering on, and who I know are cheering me on, as well. We’re becoming a well-oiled team.
One of the most effective ways that we have found to establish a team bond, or connection, is through the use of descriptive words and imagery. That’s why sporting teams have mascots, you know, as an effort to bring imagery into the story. So it’s not just everyday guys out their on the field, it’s Warriors and Titans, strongmen with overwhelming mythological connotations. For us, simply the name of our group conjures up imagery of the strong man Samson shackled between the two pillars in the temple. We’re strong men with weaknesses! We’re Samsons! Hooray!
Also, these fellow Samson-ites aren’t just friends, they are my “Band of Brothers.” It’s like we’re admitting we’re in a battle together. No longer are we fighting alone, but we’re traipsing through the muck and mire with guys by our side. Guys who are strong and weak, scared and brave, wild and wise. It’s no longer “every man for himself” that they world seems to offer. It’s like we’re experiencing what it’s like to be on a team, where each of the players offer their own personal value through their unique story and spirit. I can’t imagine Samson without Joe Shore or Glenn McClure, Scott Dente or Jack Wallin. I can’t imagine Samson without a bunch of guys. You know who I can imagine Samson without? When I get impatient and judgmental, I can imagine Samson without the guys who don’t bring their full weight. You know, the guys who speak in the third person and use a lot of generalities? Most of those guys don’t stick around too long. But some do. They stick it out and find their way into themselves, and into the lives of other guys. They join the team.
We’re also “Pirate Monks.” I am at one time a Pirate, and at another a Monk, and most times, a stunningly absurd combination of the two. But it makes sense. The imagery we use helps puts a larger story into view, when we didn’t even have words to describe it in the first place. It helps us feel like we’re a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves, something that requires us to be brave and strong and mighty. Something that requires us to stick together in order to achieve victory.
Thankfully, we all know how this story is going to end. But in the meantime, us Samson guys are going to hang on tight to the fact that we’re onto something significant. We don’t have to worry about winning or losing, but we do have to focus on learning how to fall better, how to get back up quicker, and how not to let our setbacks define us. And that sometimes victory looks a lot like one guy who chooses to keep coming back, and start sharing from the heart, leaving behind pretense and posturing, taking small steps to join the Samson team. When someone does that, we all celebrate with an upturned mug, a Pirate-like “Aaarrrhhhhh” and a sometimes loud, but most times softly delivered, “Thank you Jesus!”