On Monday, April 15, 2013 at 10:32 a.m., I wrote this quickie email to my church family:
I went to see “42”, a movie about Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the “color barrier” in Baseball. THIS MOVIE IS A MUST-SEE! Whether you are a baseball fan, history fan, Jesus fan, or no fan at all [just a human being with a pulse], this is an extraordinary movie [for everyone to see]. It has a lot of good “God Stuff” in it [Biblical references to how God sees all of us who belong to the human race]. It would be great to go [see this movie] with a friend who is not [yet] a Believer and [then go] talk about it over a bight to eat and a beverage of choice. I always say that “Baseball is Life is Baseball” and baseball is a “God Thing” and the movie “42” agrees with me.
Today is Patriots’ Day, in Massachusetts, celebrated by the running of the Boston Marathon and “game time” is 11 a.m. at Fenway Park [Rays vs. Red Sox], so I have one more thing to say before I finish this email and get ready for “Breakfast with the Sox!” Today is also Jackie Robinson Day, and every Major League Baseball player, manager and coach will be wearing 42 on the back of their jerseys, in honor of Jackie Robinson. He was a great man and God used him to change baseball and to change the whole country. We still have a ways to go [in terms of equality for all people, no matter the color of their skin, where they come from, their abilities and disabilities]. Please pray that all Christians will eliminate racism [and all kinds of barriers] from our churches and our hearts. GO SEE THE MOVIE! SEE IT!
——————————————————————————————————————–I sent out this email because I told several people, at church, that I was going to see “42” and would tell them what I thought about the movie. The movie did not disappoint and ran the whole gamut of emotions for me. It made me so angry I could “spit nails.” I had feelings of excitement as when I watch a real baseball game and I’m rooting for the new rookie to do good. There were times when I laughed out loud and times when I could not hold back the tears. The tears came when I could relate to what Jackie Robinson was going through. I have never been physically threatened, but as a physically disabled person, I know what it’s like to be made fun of and ridiculed, to go to a restaurant and have the waitress not want to deal with me and only talk with the person I am with, to have store workers literally hide and not want to help me find what I am looking for, to have others not want to play with me [as a child], to be treated as someone who in “unclean” or “inferior“ or “unworthy“. I could easily relate to the scene where Jackie went down to the runway between the dugout and clubhouse and screamed at the top of his lungs and cried and smashed his bat to smithereens against the cement walls, on each side of the runway. There have been many times in my life when I have been so enraged at life’s injustices that I have screamed and cried at the top of my lungs. Providentially, there was not ever a bat nearby.
I saw “42” on Sunday and on Patriots’ Day Monday I anticipated having a fun time, watching the early Sox game with a few friends and eating ballpark-type food, with the excitement of a REAL sports fan being the only strong emotion I felt. It was a fun time and we enjoyed watching the Sox win in “walk-off” fashion. It was only after my friends had left and I was watching the MLB Network, when I caught one of the baseball commentator’s say, “Our hearts and prayers go out to the people at the Boston Marathon.” Memories of 9/11 flooded my mind and I immediately turned to a news channel and learned of the horrific events that took place at the finish line. “How could this happen again?” “How could this happen in Boston?” Boston, in a way, is everybody’s “hometown,” no matter where a person lives in Massachusetts. For sports fans like me, Boston is “the Hub of the Universe.” As I watched in disbelief, I felt the full gamut of emotions run through my mind and heart once again. All I could do was to pray, to pray for those who have lost so much; for the parents and sister of the eight-year-old boy who died and others who lost loved ones, for those who lost limbs and were critically injured, for all the first responders and for those reporting the news, for the hospitals and their staffs, for the F.B.I. and Boston police and firefighters and for the “Good Samaritans,” for Boston’s Mayor and Governor and for President Obama.
It is so hard to fathom the cruelty of the human race and the lengths people go through to hate on other people of the same human race, simply because they do not like how the others look or what others believe or what others own, or just because hating is what they learned to do all of their lives. When will it stop?
The answer lies in believing in Someone greater than ourselves, and that His love is infinitely more powerful than all the evil that is in the world. The answer lies in the people who believe in the Source of all Goodness and Grace, in men like Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson and in you and me. As believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, we can make a difference as we pray to Him to empower us with His Love and to spread His Love and His Grace to everyone we meet by our simple and “intentional acts of kindness.” God does not use everyone to do great things, like break baseball’s “color barrier,” but God can use all who believe in Him to “love one another as I [Jesus] loved you” (John 13:34) and by not letting bitterness take root in our souls (Hebrews 12:15). While watching the interfaith service for the healing of Boston on TV today, I was reminded of the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi (13th Century Monk) and I echo his words as I pray for myself and for all believers in Christ, especially in this present time of need:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in the giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in the dying that we are born to eternal life.
As we pray for Boston and for ourselves, let us remember that the goal in life is the same as in baseball: Keep running until we reach Home!