A group of seven year old boys long for a shot at the ball. They wear their jerseys and cleats proudly. Little boys with big dreams, all healthy, all happy.
They step up to home plate, bat in hand, not a care in the world except smacking that ball.
My son is one of those boys.
Because he is the youngest of our three sons, I’ve visited this spot countless times before. Cheering them on to success. Cringing when defeat was imminent. Chuckling at little boy humor.
But this time? This time it’s different.
I no longer see as one untouched by grief and trouble, as one unfamiliar with the sting of childhood illness. This time, as I observe these boys run and catch and swing that bat, my mind drifts to the faces of those who cannot.
To those who, like my two year old grandson, spend much of their time bouncing from one doctor visit to another. Or even more daunting, find themselves confined to a hospital room months at a time. My heart pangs for those children even as I rejoice over what others can do.
I visualize my grandson as he quizzes me for what seems the hundredth time, “I run, Mim, I run? I play ball?”
My heart aches as I reassure him, “Yes, Elijah, one day you’ll run. One day you’ll play ball.” For I know somehow, someway, our boy will one day romp around as other children do.
I envision his sweet face, eyes sparkling with excitement, sporting a massive grin as he darts past, leaving behind contagious giggles and a happy, teary-eyed Mim.
My attention averts back to my seven year old. He is at bat. He swings and misses. Swings again, fouls one off. Makes contact on the final pitch and races with all his might to first base, then second.
Once he steadies himself on base, he glances my way. Smiling, his concentration returns to the next play. I am happy for this chance, but more than that, I am grateful he is physically able to take part in it.
I question what other parents think as they attend these games- as they sit through myriads of dance recitals, band concerts, and gymnastic meets.
Do they know how blessed they are?
Do I know how blessed I am?
I wonder how many of them are also viewing this game through a modified lens. A lens brushed by difficulty and uncertainty. A lens capable of greater magnification, enabling those who use it to see more intensely. A lens altered by hardship.
Hardship, through all its aching, tends to bring the beauty of life into focus.
It opens our hearts to what was once hidden.
It forever changes us.
It causes us to pause and ponder. Enlightening us. Pointing out how blessed we are to be in this place, at this moment, watching seven year old boys scramble for the ball — without a care in the world.