‘Tebowing’ not required for true prayer

A lot of people have been praying for me since I took my unfortunate tumble in mid-March. I hope they’re continuing now, as I go on with my rehab at home.  Prayers of all kinds are good, and welcome!
But then I get a puzzling post from Philadelphia with the subject line “My Prayer,” from someone I’ve known for years to be a humanistic atheist. An easily solved mystery, however:  When I opened Don’s email attachment, I saw — a pretzel!  In the familiar praying pose of Tim Tebow, the football player known for going down on one knee and bowing his head at his team’s touchdown times.
Reporting about this edible quarterback in the venerable Philadelphia Inquirer, staff writer Suzette Parmley noted that “The Tim Tebow pretzel, which is twisted in the likeness of the football player in his signature kneeling-to-pray pose, has generated more buzz and sales for a customized pretzel than any other.”  She attributes this happy economic news to Marty Ferrell, president of the Philly Pretzel Factory, who’s seen his creation go viral on the web and become the subject of commentary on TV, in Sports Illustrated, and in many other media.
The savvy old company hit upon this tasty way to publicize National Pretzel Day, which was April 26, and usher in the NFL’s much-anticipated draft, which began on April 30, while simultaneously welcoming Tebow back to the game.  He’d already been signed as a new Eagles quarterback, once again in a place that may allow him to assume his favorite position: bowing the head and bending the knee in the end zone. And apparently it’s not too hard to bend a pretzel into a recognizable, salt-dusted image of a man getting a new chance to play, and possibly to pray.
Once a heavily recruited high school star, Tebow chose the University of Florida — his home state — where he was only a sophomore when he won the coveted Heisman Trophy. He also garnered several other prestigious awards, including being named the best college quarterback in the U.S. and our country’s most outstanding amateur athlete in any sport.  But afterward, he had some rocky times with the Denver Broncos, the New York Jets, and the New England Patriots.  Now, Philadelphia is giving him another chance.
Of course the Philly Pretzel Factory is happy with the hoopla its edible conversation piece has created. The company does other specialized twists, including a four-leaf clover for St. Patrick’s Day, but that’s an old-time regular. It hit this new, most likely temporary, jackpot when it decided to welcome the quarterback’s coming to its city, even if  only as a  third-stringer. “People are captivated by his strong faith,” Ferrell said.  One pretzel purchaser commented, “I like how he’s not afraid to show what he believes.”
In the newspaper game, reporters don’t get to title their stories, and those who do seldom get credit for their headlines.  But I’d like to bend my head (but not my knee, which isn’t moving too well these days anyway!) in a nod of honor to whomever thought of this winner for Parmley’s piece: “Here’s a Philly Pretzel You Can Buy by the Sack.” A sackful doesn’t even cost too much: The good-sized Tebow twists sell for $1 each.
Nonreligious Don, an inveterate letter-writer, sent these few fun words to Parmley: “Philadelphia takes its display of religiosity with good humor, and with appropriate grains of salt.”  He doesn’t pray for my recovery, but he does make me laugh, because I have to wonder: Is that by any chance a sprinkle of kosher salt?
The “prayer” I like best came from a writer friend who is Christian herself: “Happiness keeps you sweet,” she says, “Trials keep you strong, Sorrows keep you human, Life keeps you humble.”  And then, from the Book of Ruth:  “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord.”  I pass that wish on to the real Tebow!

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