Close But No Cigar?

Posted: September 22, 2014 in World On The Edge

Golf ball at edge of holeWhen I was a student at Spring Hill College in Mobile Alabama, I was taught by many wonderful Jesuits. One that I will always remember was Father Alfred Lambeau, who taught French.

He was small and wiry, had a glass eye, and a unique, sometimes biting, sense of humor. His method of grading papers began at the bottom with a failing grade, “Egad!” Next up from that was “Close But No Cigar” and upwards again was “So-So,” and finally, “Lollipop!”

“Close But No Cigar” was my favorite. It meant that I was at least on the right track, and with a little more effort I might finally get to “Lollipop!”

To put it into context for this blog–Life is surely like Father Lambeau’s grading system, isn’t it? Life is hard, but something–some spark–within us keeps us going, and trying, and sometimes succeeding.

What is that spark?

In one word–HOPE.

Hope makes us more human than anything else. It gives us wings, so to speak. It draws us closer to who we are created to be. This is not to say we will achieve material success because we’re hopeful, but we will achieve a peace and because of that peace, happiness, even joy.

Without hope, we’re spiritually dead. Hopelessness is the cause of an enormous amount of personal misery, and our hopelessness affects others. How many criminals act from a sense of hopelessness? Hopelessness often makes us feel alone and alienated from others. We may feel powerless, or even have a sense of doom.

So the term, “Close But No Cigar” used by Father Lambeau actually was a challenge for most of us. Keep going. Keep trying. And you’ll get there.

How would any of us get through difficult times without that hope–the language of God, eternally calling to us?

  1. My brother, who had a massive heart attack and a quadruple bypass and diabetes and was a double amputee, loved and often quoted this scripture, 1 Corinthians 15:19
    “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

    Hope does make us more human than anything else; it does give us wings. As Emily D. said,

    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul
    And sings the tune without the words
    And never stops at all.


  2. kph52013 says:

    Lovely, Debra. Thank you. And I hear love for your brother in every word.


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