Monday, February 15, 2010

Hope Springs

High school baseball is here, at least in Texas. This is by far the most talented team we've had at WCS. One of the kids asked today if I'd come out and throw batting practice- it's been awhile since I've pitched. Baseball, more than any other sport, coincides with hope. It comes with the changing of the seasons from winter to spring, from dark to light, from brown and drab to green and alive. The following, from March 29, 2007, is both a hope story and a baseball story.

I'm not sure if it was M.C.'s idea or if Buster had the brainstorm. Parents of sons at Georgia Christian School, together they proposed constructing a baseball field in the middle of our campus. For a not long out of college graduate and novice coach, it was a dream come true. M.C. raised the funds and verbalized the vision while Buster, a long-term umpire and baseball man, was in charge of the layout. They came up with the equipment to do the cutting of the dirt area and the red clay was provided by, I think, Lowndes County from its excavations. The kids on the team, as well as other volunteers, shoveled and raked and pushed the wheel barrows. When the dust cleared and the fence/dugouts were installed, we had a beautiful field and its inherent advantage. The Generals, for the first time in the seventy year history of the school, had a home.

I was pretty green back then. Folks like M.C. and his lovely wife, Donna, took me in like another son. Plenty of Sunday dinners found me around the table at their rural home. Their son, Dean, was one of my students, armed with one of the most subtle senses of humors to sit in my classroom. Dean didn't play baseball but it didn't stop M.C. from spearheading the drive that would be a blessing to the school. This spring marks the twenty-fifth edition of a GCS squad to patrol Alumni Field, the title chosen for the diamond. I don't know any of the kids but I'm sure I would recognize some of their parents and one of my former players is one of the coaches. The field has undergone some renovations in the quarter century since ground was first broken. Somewhere, there are pictures of that first workday. All of us were much younger that September, including M.C. and Buster...and me.

I called M.C. and Donna tonight. It wasn't an out of the blue, nostalgia conversation. The past two years have been rough on their family. Two summers ago, Dean, a diabetic, collapsed and died before he reached forty. He left behind his wife, Dorothy, one of my basketball players, and two children. Then, this past fall, an antique tractor fell on M.C. as he was loading it into a trailer, pinning him underneath. I think some folks didn't think M.C. was going to make it. They underestimated M.C. ...... and the power of prayer. He is on the fourth phase of his rehab, after spending considerable time in a physician-induced coma. I thought I might be able to lift their spirits but as always is the case, I was the one encouraged. M.C. was effusive in his thanks for those who prayed non-stop on his behalf and ebullient on the rapid pace of his recovery. Donna talked about her hopes for Georgia Christian and the continued impact it makes in the lives of children. Grieving is a leveler and I know they have had their dark moments but in our fifteen minutes of reacquainting, they exuded a spirit of optimism. It isn't difficult to pinpoint the source of their strength. Their faith in God has sustained them through the nightmare accompanying the death of a child and the trauma of a near fatality. Peter defined the trust in God by which this family has persevered:
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1st Peter 3:15)Hope is a four letter intransitive verb that symbolizes a family of believers. The major league baseball season throws out the first pitch in seventy-two hours. Every team has a chance, at least in the hearts of the most loyal followers, to make some waves in the standings this season. Without hope, there is not that expectation of success which can propel an also-ran to a pennant contender. This is the time of year for baseball believers. For the M.C.s and Donnas of the planet, all year is spring time in their hearts. Hope is what they know and hope is how they live. It's a pretty solid foundation.Applicable quote of the day:
"Baseball is what we were. Football is what we have become."
Pearl S. Buck
God bless,
Luke 18:1
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