Last night the Red Sox inched out of last place, bringing a smidgen of joy back to “Mudville.”
Some days that’s as good as it gets, that feeling that I may not be first but at least I’m not last.
As a team, they’ve been “biblical” more than once since they won the World Series in 2013, reminding all who care that “many who are first will be last and the last will be first.”
Today the Pope comes to the United States. He’s identified with the poor and committed himself to being among the least, the last place folks.
The world and the media seem fascinated with this Pope. Catholics and other Christians plus many diverse others clamor to catch a glimpse of one who washes the feet of prisoners; trying to grab a word of hope, to learn more of the one called, “The People’s Pope,” perhaps even to receive a blessing. Small acts of kindness from a big man reach into unusual places, touch unlikely hearts.
Last Saturday I took Maggie and Kate to a Curious George party at the Gordon College Bookstore. Tyler, the manager, planned a super morning for children and the adults who brought them. Gordon’s bookstore was transformed for younger learners through the addition of small tables for short people. Tables set with crayons and sheets of paper to color, pinwheels to make, goldfish crackers and lemonade to enjoy, even a recipe for Curious George’s banana bread.
Tyler welcomed us in a big yellow hat like the one worn by Curious George’s friend. Best of all, Dr. Graeme Bird, a Gordon professor, came to read Curious George stories to some of “the least of these.” Graeme’s “wicked smaht” as some say in the Boston area, a Ph.D. in linguistics and the classics, as well as an accomplished jazz pianist. Smart’s good but wisdom’s better, and Graeme combined both to hang out with a bunch of kids and read them some stories. He held the book like a seasoned librarian so children could see the pictures; pausing, like a wise professor, to ask questions the children seemed eager to answer.
Graeme reminds me to be grateful for folks who take on small tasks and infuse them with dignity and blessing. Folks who expect nothing in return for having given the best they had to give on a Saturday in September. Matthew 13 in the Message reads,
“All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long story telling afternoon.”
Oh, the company you keep, Graeme.
In my journal entry for September 22 one year ago, I wrote something that seemed so small, almost insignificant, “Went for a drive around Cape Ann. We live in a gorgeous area!”
Today, when I read those few words, gratitude turned me to the God who seems to delight in the details, the small bits, the leftovers of everyday life.
Last September, for one brief moment, nothing was said or written about illness or MGH. No dread about what’s around the corner. Just Jud and me going for a ride in the car, enjoying sitting side by side. Alone together. Taking joy in familiar sights, comfortable with the quiet familiarity set deep in years of friendship and marriage.
Earlier this morning, I read, “What can I give back to God for the blessings he’s poured out on me?” (from Psalm 116)
Maybe I’ll start with simple thanks for the sacred seed hidden within the seeming small stuff of life: washing the feet of prisoners, reading to small folks, driving around Cape Ann with Jud, then jotting it down in a journal like it mattered and recalling today just how much it really did.
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