Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
I drew a line in the dirt with my foot. Dug my toe in. Then swept across it again with other foot – brushing the earth even. Standing on 2nd base I watched you and the other kids take your turns at the plate. And as you ran from 1st to 2nd each time I waved my arms so you could see me there as I pointed at the base.
“Stop right here.” I said. “Give me five! You hit the ball hard and ran really fast!”
The tiny hands of a dozen 5 year olds took turns giving me five as the game took it’s course.
“Now listen, do you know where to run when the ball is hit?”
Each child pointed at 3rd.
“That’s right! Get ready, watch the batter, when the ball is hit, run. I’ll tell you when.”
I patted each kid on top of the batters helmet that teetered too large on their head.
The April sun warmed the field. After a long bitter winter the birds sang in the woods that frame the small tee ball field. A flood of memories came back: I was 5, 6, 7, 8 years old again. The smell of dirt, leather ball gloves, and trees in bloom. The sound of children laughing, parents encouraging them, and the crack/ping of the bat.
I was grateful for the sun and simple past times.
On Easter Sunday I was truly overcome as we received the Lord’s supper and an image of the cross showed on the screens in the front of the sanctuary. The wind swept the garments hung around the empty cross. Thin clouds drifted overhead. And somewhere I could hear birds singing. And I could smell dirt. I pictured you kids playing tee ball. You handing them their helmets and bats, Izzy. I was overcome by God’s love. That he sent his own son to die for me. And the goodness my life has known because of God’s grace – which is receiving what I don’t deserve. The guilt I felt for moments when I’ve wanted more and felt bitterness towards God because I didn’t get it – seldom considering the mercy I receive each day. I sobbed quietly, clutching the small cups holding grape juice and a cracker. I leaned forward, my hand covering my face. Mommy rubbed my back, but didn’t say anything or ask what was wrong. I wiped tears from my eyes.
Everything is right. Tears of joy taste different. The same tears I tasted when I won the state wrestling tournament. The same tears from the finish line of my marathon. Victory. The goal fulfilled.
Because our Lord is risen. We are forgiven. Each day we walk with the victory already won. But often I still feel defeated. I want to remember the smell of a spring tee ball game and the image of the cross and remember that we’ve already won the game.
On Saturdays I get to stand in the sun and watch you play ball, and remember the day when I did the same.
Something about God giving us his own Son so that I can watch my children grow and play without worry of what is on the other side overcame me.
I love you,
Friday: Rode 2 hours
Saturday: Ran 1 hour