I woke up this morning repeating a two-word mantra from some ridiculous dream I had, “Monday miracle.” I don’t think I’ve ever put those two words together. I told my daughters about the words as we tried to remember dreams on the way to school.
“You have so many dreams that mean something,” my oldest daughter said. I just shrugged my shoulders, not sure how much attention I needed to pay to the two words.
Today’s catch playing calendar was blank which always makes me a little bit anxious. But at 9:30 this morning, right as the repairman was finishing his brilliant work on the dryer, I got an email from Clay.
My friend Judi introduced us via email, “Clay is a Drury student and baseball player. Ethan writes books and has a goal of playing catch every day this year. I think you guys would like each other, and I think the story Clay has to share is one that will inspire. You guys get together now and have a catch. Enjoy.”
Clay’s email said, “How does this afternoon work?”
Clay is a sophomore and starting first baseman for the team. I also get anxious playing with current players, worried that I’ll bring some kind of bizarre injury curse upon them. We met at Sunderland Field on a gorgeously sunny afternoon and Clay started telling me his story as we tossed the ball and I tried to stretch out my shoulder.
Last summer, Clay was in Colorado to umpire and play ball and enjoy the mountains.
One night in early June, after umpiring his first couple of games, he went hiking by himself, lugging along a hammock and some food and looking forward to the beautiful views on a morning hike.
But Clay got stuck on his hike. “I was so afraid and had a panic attack. I knew I didn’t have a solid foothold and was terrified.” It was around midnight at this point and Clay thinks he fell asleep standing up.
When he woke up the next morning, he was on the ground, about 15 feet below where he had been. Immediately he noticed the foot long gash in his left thigh, about 1 to 1.5 inches deep. He could see his muscles and lots of blood.
In all honestly, Clay should probably be dead.
“But unlike the night before, I was at peace. I was thinking clearly. I had to get back down the mountain, and it took me a couple of hours. But I wasn’t alone. I felt the tangible peace of God. It’s so hard to describe. As I walked down the mountain, someone was with me, an angel. A short, little black lady.”
The first house Clay found belonged to a retired Navy medic, who administered first aid and helped him get to a hospital.
By this time, we had stopped playing catch. The wind was so strong I didn’t want to miss a word he said, so I ran close to hear every detail.
“I fractured my skull and my fifth vertebrae. I was in a neck brace for a long time. I also had to have skin grafts on my leg.”
Ten games into the spring season with Drury, Clay is having fun on the field and with his teammates. “I really am learning to enjoy God’s presence wherever I am. I want others to experience the peace and love of God I’ve experienced.”
I was both inspired and overwhelmed by Clay’s story. We resumed catch, playing long toss and I had no words. After fifteen or so throws, we posed for a selfie and I promised Clay I’d head to US Ballpark and cheer him on.
“Any favorite verses from the experience?” I asked.
“Psalm 32:7. ‘You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.'”
Mondays are full of miracles.