Tent City

And so it begins again.  What was last week at this time just a strip of Bermuda grass next to Cameron Indoor Stadium, is today a small tent city.  Yes, for the umpteenth time, the students of Duke have claimed their spots in the hopes of snagging even better real estate inside the Cameron Cathedral for the Duke vs. UNC home Men’s Basketball game in early March.  “A tradition unlike any other”, to steal a phrase from another southern grassy plot 2 states south, the carrying out of this ritual is akin to running a marathon or climbing Kilimanjaro. These students will notch their belts, and tell tales to their grandchildren of cold nights, and tent checks, and a myriad of other rules and regs that come with the territory of KVille.  But to what end?

In some ways, “tenting” (as it is affectionately called here) is more the show than the show itself.  Anything that claims 6-7 weeks of your college career has to take up more RAM than the 40 minutes of basketball that it is poised to produce.  The design of the tent with its engineering efficiencies, the scheduling of coverage with its spreadsheets and text messages, and the aura of a night under the stars with your bff’s – how could that possibly compare to Marvin’s monster dunk or Grayson’s body sacrificing steal? But as is my custom, I always look for more meaning where others find just chilled fitful sleep and a few beer cans strewn about.

The fact that we are willing to sacrifice together for a future prize was rooted deeply in our DNA long before the seeds of grass were strewn in front of Card Gym.  Doesn’t it speak louder than the roar of the Crazies that we are so wired to share a common struggle for the sake of a future prize that is not necessarily guaranteed – God forbid, but we could lose!!! So for those who are braving the various colored tenting rituals, and those who stand far off and wonder what all the hoopla is all about, may we all know that this process is in fact formative if we allow it to pervade other areas of our lives that have greater import than the final score of a game against such an insufferable rival (I went for “insufferable” over “hated” – after all, I live with friars who minister at UNC).

And in those other areas, know that the end is often times greater than the journey to get there.  As glorious as this life is in which we tent and struggle together as believers in Jesus, his promise of the glory of heaven is even greater – worthy of the most creative chants and roars that the Cameron Cathedral can produce!


Fr. Mike
fr.mike@duke.edu  c. 919-316-8763 / w. 919-684-1882
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