Posts Tagged ‘play

06
Jul
21

What’s At the Heart

I love Hud.

Uncle Hud, in action

True confession time: at first, I did NOT love Hud. At all.

Hud (or Uncle Hud) is the name Kansas City Royals fans have given to Rex Hudler – the  guy who does play-by-play of Royals games on TV. 

Uncle Hud is definitely an acquired taste. 

Honestly, when he first started broadcasting baseball games for the Royals, I thought Hud was a dud. He is justifiably famous for a long string of “Hud-isms.” That is, words and phrases that pop effortlessly out of his mouth during a game that leave most listeners scratching their heads and saying, “WHAAAAAATT?”

Some examples:

  • How about a doink, a bloop, or a blast right here.
  • Players, really, are property.
  • I say, “Bruce, I watch you chew that gum, man. It’s amazing how you chomp that thing!”
  • I get hungry when you throw that accent out there!
  • I had a license at one time, but they’ve taken it from me.
  • That had too much hair on it.
  • Be a fountain, not a drain
  • Oh, that was nice. How ‘bout just a thing. Throw a little thing out there, Moose.
  • He wants to try to shoot that hole anywhere. Any hole.
  • Did you know that’s a video game now? Angry Birds?
  • Maybe Billy can wake those ducks up.
  • That’s not just a circle change! He curls that thing all the way up into a little donut!
  • He brings a lunch pail to work, even though he probably really doesn’t.
  • Everything went well but the loss.
  • His teammates call him Wader. I’ll say! Wader, check please!

True fans will also recount Uncle Hud’s live, on-air, in-game debate with Ryan Lefebvre – his broadcast partner – about whether or not the moon is a planet.

Hud arrived in the KC broadcast booth in 2012. The first strike against him was that he came from California… never a plus with Kansas Citians. Strike two was that he came to replace a beloved and long-time KC baseball announcing legend. 

The third – and final – strike for most people was the list I just showed you above. 

But here it is, July 6, 2021, and Uncle Hud is still behind the microphone, broadcasting every home and away game for the stumbling, fourth-place Kansas City Royals. 

The thing that turned most doubters (I’ll admit, including me) into believers can be summed up in one word: 

LOVE

Hud LOVES the game of baseball. In fact, he is regularly effusive, and gooey, and downright mooshy about his love of the game. During every game he keeps a baseball with him… spinning it in his fingers and bouncing it back and forth from one hand to the other as he describes a perfect 6-4-3 double play.

His devotion to the history, the traditions, the nuances, the aura, and the rules of the game borders on religious reverence. Probably because he spent 20 years – divided between six different Major League teams, including the Japanese League – playing The Great Game.

Hud LOVES the Kansas City community.

He LOVES his wife and his four children and rarely passes up an opportunity to talk about them… whether it is pertinent to the moment or not.

Hud LOVES his broadcast partners, the Royals organization, the fans who write him letters (positive or not), the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (located in Kansas City), the weather, the visiting team, the umpiring crew, the off-season, the chair he sits in…

… in fact, there really does not seem to be anything Rex Hudler doesn’t love in this wide world… with the possible exception of mean, unloving people. 

And so, in return, the people of Kansas City have finally come to love Uncle Hud…

[… well, most of them, anyway.]

I take particular encouragement from Hud’s story because – in a way – it is my story. During my career as a pastor, I screwed up a lot of things. I committed a lot of verbal gaffes. I slighted people I didn’t intend to slight. I missed deadlines. I overcommitted. I had bad ideas. I failed to follow through on commitments. I occasionally employed shaky theology. 

But despite my myriad flaws and black marks, I tried to keep LOVE at the heart of everything I did. 

Personally, I am counting on the truth of the verse in 1 Peter that says, “… for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8, NRSV). 

Maybe you are, too.

Abundant blessings;

28
Jan
20

Glorious Grind

Baby spinach“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”            1 Corinthians 10:31, NRSV

The other night we had some people over for dinner. Joan decided a big spinach salad would be the perfect accompaniment for the main dish she was preparing. She gave me the job of rinsing the spinach leaves and pulling all the stems off.

Because Lord knows, you can’t have a proper spinach salad with a bunch of stemmy spinach leaves, right?

And so, being the jolly team player I am, I set about my task… whistling as I worked.

Did I mention it was a BIG bag of baby spinach… with lots and lots of individual pieces of spinach in it… and that each spinach leaf had a stem attached to it?

Soon enough, my whistling stopped. The pile of un-destemmed spinach looked larger than it did when I started. The de-stemmed pile seemed impossibly small.

It was one of those repetitive, mindless jobs that I have never been a big fan of. It was fun having Joan there beside me doing her part of the dinner prep (her job, incidentally, was preparing the dressing and all of the other ingredients for the spinach salad… a job that involved skill and creativity). So at least I was able to divert my attention from the drudgery of the moment with some light, engaging banter with my wife.

But still…

That moment took me back to a couple of jobs I held a long time ago that involved a heavy dose of monotonous, repetitive work.

Mind you, these were not jobs that lasted only as long as it took to de-stem a 12-ounce bag of baby spinach.

These were jobs that lasted a whole lot longer.

One of those involved working for our next-door neighbor as a 12-year old kid. Miss Williams had some prize rose gardens back behind the house and my job was to go through each plant and pick off any aphids I could find.

For that mind-numbing work, I made the princely sum of 35 cents an hour. After three hours of aphid-picking, I had a solid DOLLAR in my pocket… with no taxes withheld. (Sorry, IRS!)

Later, when I was older, I worked in the factory of a company that manufactured hydraulic and pneumatic valves. For eight hours a day, five days a week, I put little rubber O-rings onto the end of the pistons inside the valves. O-rings – as I’m sure you know – keep the air or fluid from leaking into the piston.

I have to confess that I mostly hated those jobs. Every day I dreaded showing up and could not wait for the end of my workday. As soon as I found something else, I was out of there!

It was not until much later that I realized a couple of things about those jobs. First, I realized that for some people ANY job – even a monotonous job – is a godsend. It is the means to providing food and shelter for them or for their family. That job provides a place where they can contribute to the world and stay gainfully occupied. The job I whine about just might be a lifesaver for someone else.

My second realization was that almost EVERY endeavor includes a grinding, monotonous, mindless component at some stage. A brilliant concert pianist has had to spend hours and hours in tedious, repetitive practice. A gifted NFL quarterback (like, oh, for example, PATRICK MAHOMES) has had to throw thousands of balls on a practice field, away from the bright lights, every day, on his own. The charismatic, gifted preacher has sweated bullets over multiple drafts of that sermon and thrown away more pages than she has kept.

It all makes me think of Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a 13thcentury Christian monastic. For his entire life as a monk, Brother Lawrence worked in the monastery kitchen, cooking for the other monks and cleaning up their dirty dishes. He had no time to sit in quiet contemplation of heavenly realities, listening for the voice of God. There was always the next meal to prepare.

And yet, somehow, Brother Lawrence found holiness there in the kitchen. Here is the prayer that is attributed to him:

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
since I’ve no time to be a great saint
by doing lovely things,
or watching late with Thee,
or dreaming in the dawnlight,
or storming heaven’s gates,
make me a saint by getting meals,
and washing up the plates.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love,
and light it with Thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.

Amen

Yeah… but did he ever have to de-stem a whole bag of baby spinach?

05
Jun
18

Be Like Rosie

Rosie mopingMeet Rosie.

Rosie is our nearly eight-month-old Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier.

And yes, it is perfectly OK for you to say what you’re thinking right now: she IS, in fact, the cutest dog in the world.

Rosie is very high-spirited and energetic… which is exactly why we chose the name, Rosie. Think of it for a minute: every human named Rosie I have ever known has been spunky, high-spirited, and energetic… for example,

  • Rosie the Riveter
  • Rosie O’Donnell
  • Rosie Perez, just to name a few.

Rosie under chairRosie came to us in early December and is the first dog my wife and I have raised from the puppy stage. I will admit to being more than a bit nervous whether I was up to the task, or how badly we might scar her. But I have to give her credit; Rosie has responded remarkably well to our admittedly erratic efforts at training during this past six months.

And so it was with no small degree of surprise when I was struck earlier today with this sudden realization: as much effort as Joan and I have spent training Rosie, it seems that all this time Rosie has also been working on training US.

I am not sure how many of her lessons we have mastered yet, but here are some of the things I believe she has been trying to teach us since December:

  • THE VALUE OF SPONTANEOUS PLAY. For Rosie, there seems to be no time and no place that is not PERFECT for breaking into a rousing game of “fetch the tennis ball,” or “tug the squeaky toy,” or “chase me around the living room with your shoe in my mouth.” I believe she wants us to know that play can happen ANYWHERE, under any circumstance. She has probably observed that Joan and I seem to spend a lot of time with our heads burrowed into our laptops, or the morning paper, or engaged in somber-toned conversations with one another and wants to shake things up a bit. Even now as I write these words she is eagerly baiting me with a bit of knotted rope she likes to tug.
  • NAPS ARE GOOD… OH SO GOOD. The only thing Rosie does better than eating or playing is napping. She can nap anytime, anywhere, in fair weather or foul, at home or on the road. Her favorite places to nap are tile or marble floors where it is nice and cool. But when push comes to shove, she will nap on any available surface.
  • AN UNABASHED LOVE OF NATURE. It does not matter how long or short the walk is, whether it is raining, snowing or bright and sunny if Rosie wants to stop and sniff a flower, she stops. And sniffs. And sniffs some more. She is also now strong enough to resist my tugging at the leash when I decide she has taken enough time with THAT flower and it is now time to move on. Rosie appears to believe that each flower was carefully crafted by its Creator and deserves her reverent attention.
  • LIMITED SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT. It may be that – as a dog – Rosie lacks the necessary opposable thumbs, or intellectual bandwidth to know how social media forums like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or SnapChat work. Or it may be that by eschewing them she is trying to help us see the potential of these applications for the stunting of rich, authentic, and complex relationships with others.

    But I trust Rosie and know she is a lot brighter than she seems. So I am going to go with the latter explanation.

There are certainly others, but I believe this one is Rosie’s most important lesson:

  • UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Of course, Rosie loves Joan and me, her human caretakers, without pretense or condition. But every time we have guests over, or just happen to pass another person on the walking trail, she is absolutely DELIGHTED to see them! Even if she has never met them! She bounces up and down on her hind legs as if to say, “Hi! How are you? It is SO GREAT to see you! Come pet me and play with me!” She shows no willingness to grasp the concept that some people are cranky or odd or even devious. She seems to want to teach us that every person God created (which is all of them) is each an AMAZING, WONDERFUL, UNIQUE creation, worthy of love and respect.

    In that sense, Rosie comes much closer to being an actual Jesus-follower than I am. And I’ve had many more years to work on it!

Needless to say, Rosie has done a LOT better job of learning the lessons we are teaching her than we have done at learning what she is trying to teach us.

Thankfully she is patient and understanding and willing to forgive our shortcomings. I just hope she understands when we gently – but firmly – refuse to learn about the fine art of sniffing other people’s butts.

Abundant blessings;

09
Mar
18

The Child Within

inner childrenHe sees so much, sitting there
Perched on the edge of my soul.
An avalanche of wonder cascades
On… in… around his open, receptive eyes.

He misses nothing.
He is a bridge.
He is a lighthouse.
He is the key to the door of secrets.

His hand outstretched
E.T. glowing white fingertips
He invites me to “come”
“Learn”
“Listen”

“We should climb this tree
And sit silently
And watch.” 

“We should dive into
That pile of leaves…
And roll around.”

In his hand, a wrapped gift appears.
Open it,” he sings.
And so I open it
And I weep.

The gift pulses, shimmers, purrs
It glows a deep, satisfying blue.
It is the gift I have always wanted
But could never speak.

It is the gift of my life…
Whole
Affirmed
Holy.

Mine to cherish.
Mine to own.

I love you,” he says.
And smiles.




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