Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Unconditional Love

Watching the Major League Baseball All-Star Game last night, I was not expecting to get a glimpse of genuine love. Before the game began there was an interview with arguably the best player ever to play baseball, Willie Mays. Mays played most of his career for the Giants and since the game was being held in San Fransisco, they made a big deal out of Willie, and rightly so.

Willie Mays began playing for the Giants in 1951, when he won rookie of the year honors. During his tenure with the team, he played with a man named Bobby Bonds. Bonds used to bring his young son around the clubhouse and even made the great Willie Mays the kid's godfather. That boy grew up to be quite the ballplayer himself. Barry Bonds broke into the league in the mid 80's and immediately began to tear it up. He was a fantastic player with all around abilities. He was well into a Hall of Fame career when something odd began to happen to him and virtually every other slugger in the game. They began to grow. There has been speculation and, at times, proof that a whole bunch of major league players were using performance enhancing drugs to improve their abilities and ultimately hit more home runs.

Barry Bonds has become the poster child and scapegoat for this issue. He broke the single season home run record, hitting an unbelievable 73 home runs in 2001, breaking Mark McGwire's only slightly more believable record of 70, hit three years earlier. Now, as Bonds approaches the most hallowed record in sport, Hank Aaron's 755 career home runs, he is getting the brunt of criticism more and more. Add to this that Bonds' father, with whom he was immensely close, died in 2003, one can see how this is a stressful time for Barry, even if it may be a situation he put himself in.

That's why last night's festivities were so amazing to me. Willie Mays, the great hero of baseball, continues to stand up for his godson. Willie stands proudly next to Barry, the man he's known since childhood, in the place where Barry's father can no longer stand. Willie doesn't address the steroids issue; I've never heard him even make an allusion to his feelings one way or another. He has only one position: Barry Bonds is like a son to me and I'm with him no matter what.

I try to keep the sports topics out of this blog because they can dilute the content and turn off readers, but this story is not really about sports. Willie Mays, at 76 years old, still has some hero in him. Willie is teaching us about love and loyalty in a way that rings true in my life. We don't abandon those we love just because they made some poor decisions. Barry Bonds will not have to worry like the pregnant teenager suddenly homeless or the drug addict in jail with no one to bail him out. Even Barry Bonds, the most hated man in professional sports, has a base of love. Willie Mays, one of the sport's great ambassadors, has one more lesson for us to learn.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Return

Well, guess what? I’m back. It’s been a busy summer for the most part and there hasn’t been much time to think or write about anything I don’t have to turn into a professor. So today, I have this idea and I think to myself, “man, I should write this down somewhere,” and then immediately, “yeah, but where would I just write down some random idea?” and then even more immediately, “of course, there’s a whole world that thrives on people’s random ideas; you can write there.” So here we are.

The wife is out of town for a few days to attend a wedding, so predictably I stayed up too late the first night, especially when I still have to get up for work at 6am. Yesterday morning was a little rough, but I masked the fog behind a rare caffeine shield (Guatemala Antigua dark roast…mmm mmm) and went about my day. Still the lingering notions of morning were a bit of a deterrent.

However, not enough of a deterrent to keep me from doing the same thing the next night. Now with two days fatigue on my hands, I went to bed and somehow managed to wake up from a deep sleep before my alarm and feeling totally rested and relaxed. I said a little prayer of thanks to God for that unexpected blessing.

Then I thought (as maybe you did as well), God didn’t make you sleep better last night than the night before! And it’s probably true. The odds of Almighty God bending the well ingrained laws of space and time so that I could feel a little more refreshed this morning are pretty slim. That’s just not the way things work in this world. My rest had a lot more to do with human physiology being such that an exhausted body sleeps deeper (and thus better) than simply a very tired one.

Existentially, in the grand scheme of things, God was the one who set the processes in motion which led to the development of human physiology and thus this wonderful gift of rest to me this morning. In some way, it is ok to say that God did this, because really God “does” just about everything if we’re looking at things from that perspective.

And really, this action is exactly the kind of thing God does. I mean the idea that I got extra rest when I really, really needed it, but totally did not deserve it (and if anything, deserved the opposite) matches right up with the unbelievable character of God. So, long story short, I’m very ok with ascribing thanks (and real thanks, not just the kind you throw at a stranger for holding the elevator) to God on this one.

Whether there was any cosmic string pulling or button pushing directly undertaken last night or not, God did a good thing and continues to do the same good thing throughout the world.