which is the shortest month, holds its share of special days.
Even when it does not include a Leap Day, like last year, it
is still Black History Month. It is the month of Groundhog Day
and Saint Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day. February is the
month when the Lunar New Year begins.
This year, though not every year, February is the month of
Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the liturgical season of
One day, though, overshadows the rest of these special days
when it comes to craft beer and spiritual life. February is the
month in which the Super Bowl is played.
Super Sunday is how we celebrate the place of the National
Football League in our culture. A few of us still cling to the
belief some other sport might be our National Pastime, but most
of us know football has supplanted all others.
I was born and raised in a time and place which celebrated
football, beer, and spiritual life more than once a year. In the
Wisconsin of my childhood, beer and football were part of
Autumn was a season of leaves changing colors. The weeks grew
colder and daylight grew shorter, and the weekends were
dedicated to football, beer, and spiritual life.
In my memory, whether it actually happened or not, my family
spent Saturdays in September and October raking leaves in the
yard and listening to the University of Wisconsin football games
on the radio. I can see us cleaning and preparing for the
approaching cold winter while hearing about the exploits of the
Sundays, though, we focused our attention on the National
Football League. Our spiritual life was partly about church on
Sunday morning, but we also worshiped the Green Bay Packers on
There were times when the Packers would play teams from the
Eastern Time Zone. I remember Sundays when, if a sermon started
to go a little long, people would get up and walk out of church.
There seemed to be an understanding we worshiped not only God in
church but also at the shrine of Packer glory.
I have watched the Green Bay Packers, and the Wisconsin
Badgers, for as long as I can remember. Wisconsin has played in
four Rose Bowl games since I moved to Southern California, and I
have attended all four. I have yet to see them win.
Since growing up and going to school in Wisconsin, I also
lived in Washington, DC, and Chicago as well as here in Los
Angeles. Even during decades when the Packers were far from
their once and future glory, nothing has enticed me to change my
My own spirituality has grown and developed, changing shape
and becoming something new. The beers I drink have changed
dramatically. I remain a Packer fan.
Like spiritual life and our passion for great craft beer,
football fans also share their enthusiasm for their teams.
It has been remarkable for me to watch my wife, an archivist
who is a San Gabriel Valley native, become passionate about the
Wisconsin Badgers and the Green Bay Packers. She started by
watching me watch games, and her allegiance has been transformed
from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten.
I do not, though, watch as much NFL football as I have in the
past. After doing a little research about brain injuries in
people who play professional football, I find it harder to watch
The Super Bowl now has less to do with football and more with
The Packers have played in five Super Bowl games, winning
four of them. I can remember watching the flickering images of
Bart Starr, Bret Favre, and Aaron Rodgers leading the team to
It looked as though I might need to watch another Super Bowl
this February. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Packers lost
their conference championship game, so I no longer need to pay
I invite you to join me in celebrating craft beer and
spiritual life this month. Visit your favorite local craft
brewery or tasting room, or store where beer is available. Sit
comfortably and remember the times you have spent contemplating
deep truths and tasting excellent craft beer.
We can celebrate our special days together.
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor in Pasadena,
California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and
monks and monastic life. Greg has served as an assistant
district attorney and an associate university professor. Greg’s
website is StrategicMonk.com and
he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk.
You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com,
and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel