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'Minneapolis Miracle' speaks hope in despair

Roxane Salonen

The column about my father had been submitted, but then something happened that had me changing courses.

They're calling it the "Minneapolis Miracle," and I know if Dad, an avid football fan, had still been around, he'd have happily celebrated, too, this moment that had half the country screaming in shocked delight.

I've never been a huge football fan. Growing up in a basketball town, I had the chance to follow our boys to the state championship game in the late 1980s as a cheerleader with a prime, courtside view. When it came to the pigskin, however, our guys just didn't shine.

Then I married a Minnesotan, and our lives turned purple and gold. After my husband's recent heart surgery, his favorite gifts included a handmade Vikings-themed quilt from our parish, and Vikings-themed slippers from his longtime, raving-Vikings-fan friend.

Years ago, I tried joining suit, but Gary Anderson's fateful kick in 1998 hurt too much. My hubby would have to be a forever fan for the both of us; I'd stay fair-weathered.

Lately, though, I've been heartened to see how the Vikings have helped his recovery, giving him motivation to leave the house post-surgery to watch the game with friends — including this past Sunday. Throughout the night, he reported results. Finally, I decided to watch on Facebook livestream.

It looked grim. "Here we go again," he texted in defeat. The promising start had, once again, deflated. Painfully, I watched as Saints' fans began gloating.

But what happened next knocked my purple socks off, causing me to break into a dance of unparalleled victory, even scaring the pets. "It's a miracle!" I shouted with so many others.

Now, I realize that there's actual divine intervention, and then there's hard work and incredible luck. But reviewing the play, it seemed impossible every single time.

I think there's a reason even many Saints' fans had to eventually concede that the last play was remarkable. And I've begun to see that this inspiring turn of events isn't just about this game, or the Vikings football team, but how despair can turn around, even when we've given up.

In Luke 1:37, we read: "For nothing is impossible with God." The "Minneapolis Miracle" may or may not have involved heavenly help, but it can remind us that with God, there's always hope.

Earlier that day, my cousin Nick's firstborn, Tillie, came into the world, sharing, against the odds, a birthday with her great-grandfather, my Grandpa Joe, who died when I was 9. The football victory was amazing, but for our family, Tillie, whose father grew up in Minnesota, will always be the genuine "Minneapolis Miracle."

The football season's not over yet, but in many ways, the thrill of a Super Bowl win has already happened.

And one thing's for sure, I'm hopping back on the hope train. Skol!