For this past week, onInstagram, I have been inviting this virtual community (as well as myself) to transform their lives and the lives of others.
I often focus on the better utilization of our God-given gifts and talents as a path to living a life that is true to our self.
Another path is presented in the opportunities that unexpectedly develop each and every day- moments to choose to be kind and to love.
These acts of kindness are plentiful, often unseen and unrecognized. In some ways, it is found in simple acts- like holding a door open for someone. I am always stuck how my students recognize this as an important behavior that reflects the greater culture on campus.
In other ways, acts of kindness and love require courage, acting beyond the rules, and loving unconditionally.
One such moment is captured in the video above.
This scene is from a 2014 Garth Brooks concert in Minnesota. His fan, Teresa Shaw, received chemotherapy for stage 3 breast cancer earlier that day, and captures the attention of Garth with a homemade sign, setting up a truly beautiful moment.
What struck me most outside of the emotional looks on Garth’s and Teresa’s faces was the perhaps overlooked kindness of the ushers, the angels in disguise, who first noticed the sign and then moved Teresa closer to the stage so Garth could read her sign.
By their action, inspiration flowed- not just for the tens of thousands at the Target Center that night, but for the millions who have watched this video or heard this story over the past 6 years.
Do they know that their act of kindness changed the world?
Do they realize that their love was multiplied by immeasurable numbers?
They could have smiled, even shed a tear, without moving her as that action was not within their work responsibilities.
It was within their human responsibilities, however. It was an opportunity they took to shine the divine light, transforming lives in the process.
Be on the lookout for opportunities today to love, to go beyond the business of your day, to be kind- to love.
When opportunity knocks, answer the door!
Or as the Book of Proverbs teaches us, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act (3:27).”
The past few nights were different.
My beloved Mets suffered a couple of horrible losses. One could say that I should be used to it by now. What was unfamiliar was how I found myself taking a strange and unusual approach after the final out.
There was no anger, no heartbreak, and no running to the kitchen for comfort.
Instead, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I was grateful for a game to watch, to be alive and in a blessed position to get lost in it for a few hours, and to appreciate the well-spent evening- even if heartbreaking.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across our land, the baseball season feels like a ticking time bomb ready to explode. We simply do not know when the next pitch will be the last.
In watching these games, what doesn’t escape me are the hundreds of thousands who died from the pandemic thus far, the millions unemployed, the incredible amount of trauma we are all facing, the growing number of hungry, abused, and lonely, and the tears and cries for justice and peace that echo in our divided streets.
It is hard to get angry over a ballgame when our world is so wounded and hurting.
In this peculiar season and year, baseball again provides us two life lessons: daily appreciation and the invitation to take our turn at bat.
There is simply no promise of a game tomorrow or another day to live.
We are invited to cherish every inning and hour alike, appreciating the gift before us.
We must also take our swings.
We are called to use our talents to answer prayers. The fake crowd noise will not go wild; instead we will feel a deep sense of purpose as we serve with love.
There will, God-willing, be a day when I will see a game from the stands, hug my family, and see a healing and better world. I might even find myself throwing the remote again after a blown save.
Until then, I will keep trying to serve, to authentically love, and to be grateful for a treasured game and a tremendously blessed life.
Stay tuned this Monday, August 3rd, for more information on how to transform your dreams into reality.
For as long as I can remember, I wrote a poem or reflection on each and every Opening Day to mark the occasion.
I would dream of home runs, strikeouts, and hopes for a few night games in the big ballpark in Flushing. I would look back to the limited past glory, and optimistically look forward, hoping our roster was finally good enough to be the last team standing.
This year, my attempt to capture what this day means occurs in the final week of July- and the game, in many ways, never felt so irrelevant.
There are plenty of reasons to disregard this baseball summer:
Yet, as I woke up this morning, I couldn’t help but feel giddy at the thought of Mets baseball. Fans of other teams join me as they dress in their team colors, wave their flags, and dream of popping champagne in October.
Baseball is welcomed, despite its imperfection, because it allows us to get lost, to find community (even if it is virtual), and to remember those better days when we cheered from the sun-soaked bleachers, took in all the sights, smells, and sounds, and embraced strangers during a late-inning rally. It also invites us to look forward to that glorious day when we can return home with those we love the most.
As our wounded nation journeys through this most difficult of year, we recognize the role the game plays when we are hurting the most. From war time to personal struggle, baseball is always there to find refuge. One cannot underestimate the healing power of nine innings.
Perhaps the most important home run ever hit in this town came off the bat of Mets’ Mike Piazza, 10 days after the tragic events of 9/11. His 8th inning, game winning blast brought together a wounded nation, and in its own way, helped us begin to heal.
The game, that day, served its greatest purpose.
Baseball takes its turn at bat again.
We will soon call balls and strikes from our couch, getting lost in a game played in empty stadiums for a sprint of a season.
The pandemic invites us to prioritize life, and it is here where we find that baseball means much less than it did only seven months ago.
But it sure does feel great to have a game today, to wear some orange and blue, and to believe that there may be a silver lining in this year after all.