It is Players Weekend in Major League Baseball, which means that the players are wearing fun uniforms with nicknames across their backs and creatively decorated cleats and bats. The personalities that shine through on their decorations and nickname choices are just a glimpse into the real people who play this great game. I’m still brainstorming what my Players Weekend jersey nickname would be.
Last night, Hailey Dawson threw out the first pitch at the Royals game with her 3D-printed robotic hand. It was her 29th first pitch in a quest to throw one at each stadium and a perfect celebration of Players Weekend. The Royals followed Hailey’s lead and secured the series win over division leading Cleveland.
After church and after the parking lot was mostly vacated, Debra joined me for a game of catch.
“It’s been years since I’ve played,” she said with a smile.
Debra played softball in high school on a team called the Smooth Operators, which means I’ll be singing that song for the rest of the day. She left her glove at home and asked to borrow one. Out of instinct I handed her the new Wilson and then pulled the 1940s Wilson out of my backpack for myself. When I handed her the glove, I spotted the beautiful music-clef heart tattoo on her wrist and commented on it.
“It’s in honor and memory of my brother.”
I didn’t know her brother’s story. Because there isn’t a lot of time and space during the worship service to share stories, sometimes stories that need to be told don’t get a chance to be aired. Over and over again, thanks to this ridiculous-yet-inspired Catch 365 project, I’m discovering the sacredness of playing catch, where a holy space is created and important and fun and powerful stories are shared naturally.
I also learned that Debra played flute in the marching band in high school. Out of necessity, she created what we now call texting gloves to continue playing in cold weather. Even though I never played a band instrument, I am a big fan of marching bands and the devotion and discipline those musicians have to bring the joy of music into the world.
After a few tosses, Debra commented on my glove and we switched. I don’t let many people use the old glove because I’m worried about them getting hurt. The fingers aren’t laced. The pocket sits directly on the palm. And the ball can squeeze through what precious little webbing there is between the thumb and index finger. Debra had no problems using the glove whatsoever.
Even in the heat and humidity, with feet cooking on the parking lot asphalt, playing together after praying together is truly a fantastic way to start the week, to be sent out into the community to make new friends and discover their stories, too. With all of my heart, I am thankful for all of the friends who are helping me along the way on this catch-playing quest.