Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Man In The Red Shirt

In this camp picture taken several years ago, I am working with Victoria Silvas who I later coached and more importantly, baptized into Jesus Christ!
We start our third and final week of camp tomorrow with sessions in both the morning and afternoon. I mentioned in a post last week that I am completing my 17th year of working at the Westbury Christian All-Star Basketball camp. That is a simply staggering number to me. It's a blur and the memories are completely random with categories more likely to be recalled than specifics. Since its inception in 1993 (I think) with then boys' coach and AD Greg Glenn as architect, our campers have worn the same white camp t-shirts. There are five basketball jerseys spread out horizontally, each bearing the word of the day. (In case you are curious the five are attitude, fundamentals, effort, discipline, tenacity.) The campers clap when they hear those words, usually spoken in a teaching moment. When I first started working the camps, the coaches wore regular t-shirts, usually with some shoe logo or college/NBA team emblem. About twelve years ago in a terrific move, Greg began requiring the coaches to wear a shirt identical shirt to the campers, only in red. No telling how many of those red shirts I've been through. 

All that brings me to Kaeden. The son of Kenneth, one of my WCS colleagues, and Lynette, a financial advisor, Kaeden goes to both school and church with me. I should also he just turned four and is all boy. He has a motor the Energizer Bunny must envy. When Lynette told me several weeks ago that Kaeden was coming to camp, I silently thought he wasn't quite ready but I was mistaken. He has been terrific. What could be better than a four year old male being able to run almost to his heart's content with a ball in his hand? Well, last Thursday, Lynette and Kaeden arrived at WCS for the AM camp almost simultaneously with yours truly. With the innocence of his age and an amazingly cute voice, Kaeden asked his mom:
"Why does Coach Hawley have on a red shirt and mine is white?"

In all the years I've been at our camp, I don't think I have ever heard a camper ask that question or have it explained to the kids by the adults. If memory serves me correctly, Greg changed the policy for several reasons. The first is so we as coaches would look more uniform, professional, and would represent the school. The second is so that the parents as well as the campers would know who the coaches are. That seems simple but it isn't because a bunch of our teachers and coaches of other sports walk through the gym area constantly. If you don't attend WCS or if your child doesn't, how are you supposed to differentiate? So Kaeden's question is both legitimate and insightful. And what is probably even more remarkable is that I doubt he remembers asking it. Little boys have an inborn ability to live in the present.

There are always categories which mark us as different from others- age, gender, ethnicity- but these are qualities we have no control over. Some we can control might be deemed more important based on the interpretation of society; career, level of education, neighborhood, accomplishments. But look at how Jesus defines His spiritual family in Mark, chapter 3 and verse 35:
Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.
That's pretty definite. Where humans argue is the definition of God's will. From the beginning of time, roles have been set out for God's creatures who are made in His image. Some are concurrent; father/son/uncle/brother/nephew/grandfather/grandson. Some are temporary. Some are, I fear, being blurred. But I do know this; if I want Jesus to be my brother, I have to follow the will of the Father. I wish it was as simple as wearing a t-shirt.

Applicable quote of the day:
“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you've done will have mattered as much.” 
Lisa Wingate

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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