South Africa: “Our Myron?”

The travel/study seminar has been an experience of intersecting communities. There is the community of the travelers; over meals, in times of reflection, and during crowded bus rides we have bonded.

There are the communities of our sisters and brothers in Christ in South Africa and Malawi who honor us with their welcome. “We have a place to come back to,” Amanda Craft told members of the Matiki Church after we shared dinner together. Every place we have had the privilege to visit, we have experienced the reality of being part of Christ’s body.

There are the communities of those we left behind—families, friends, colleagues, congregations, and more—people who think of us and pray for us daily.

There is the Communion of Saints that surrounds us all.

Each of these communities overlaps and intersects in ways that challenge us, stretch us, and enrich us. In some cases, it has been a blessing to periodically experience the intersections. In other cases, it has been a moment of growth.

For three of the participants, our time together brought the opportunity to recognize yet another, perhaps not so theological, community to which we belong—Steelers Nation—that collection of Pittsburghers, former Pittsburghers, expatriate Pittsburghers, and wannabe Pittsburghers who have cast their lot with Pittsburgh Steelers, following every move on and off the field.

Linda Robertson and Nora Goetz live in Pittsburgh. I grew up outside the city and in Western Pennsylvania. We are all three Steelers fans.

On February 27, while surfing the Internet, I learned that Myron Cope had died. To denizens of Steelers Nation, others in the ‘burgh, and many NFL fans, Myron Cope was a legend. As long as I can remember, Myron had been the broadcast voice of the Steelers—and what a voice—virtually indescribable, utterly unforgettable—everyone in Steelers Nation could impersonate Myron. He lived and breathed the Steelers, putting together images and coining phrases (“Double yoi”) that would bring a smile to the face (and maybe a tear to the eye at this moment) of all who bleed black and gold.

It was Myron who birthed the Terrible Towel—the gold cloth with black lettering that waves in frenetic circles over the heads of Steelers’ fans joyfully in victory and defiantly in defeat.

Illness forced Myron to retire a few years back. Illness plagued his recent years. Still it came as a surprise to read that he had died. A pang of sorrow touched my heart.

What a blessing it was to be with Nora and Linda who understood what this man, a man I had never met, meant to me and to them and to so many.

I gently touched Linda’s shoulder, and quietly said, “Myron Cope died.” “Our Myron?” she replied. For Nora, for Linda, for me, for all in Steelers Nation, nothing more needed to be said.

Thanks be to God for Our Myron—and for everyone who is a part of any of the communities we inhabit—and for all of God’s children with whom we share this life—and for the ways our lives intersect.

Written on 1 March 2008.


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