One by One, Day by Day
While the residents tend to be the focus of attention at Safe Haven, this program would not exist without a competent and dedicated staff. As most of my service occurs on the weekends, I have a fair amount of interaction with L who is a wealth of both professional and personal experiences. Personally, he shares some of the life struggles of those encountered among the residents and he has overcome them. Professionally, L is kind, thoughtful and full of wisdom.
Recently, L shared a Wayne Dyer story with me that I am still mulling over and wondering, could it really be possible in our broader world? It is about a young, disabled child wanting to play baseball with the regular boys. The team is losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. One of the boys invites Shaya, the young boy, to join his team. By the ninth inning, the team has a few runs but is still behind. The bases are loaded with two outs and it is Shaya’s turn at bat. He clumsily swings at the first pitch. For the second pitch, a team member joins Shaya and together they hit a slow ground ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead the pitcher throws the ball in a high arc towards the right field, far beyond the reach of the first baseman. Everyone encourages Shaya to run to first base and he scampers down the baseline. By the time he reaches first base, the right fielder has the ball. Instead of throwing the ball to second base he throws it way over the head of the third baseman. Meanwhile, everyone cheers Shaya on to run to second base and the shortstop yells to Shaya to run on to third. Then the boys on both teams scream to Shaya to run home. As he steps onto home plate all eighteen boys lift Shaya on their shoulders and make him the hero, as he has just hit a “grand slam” and won the game for this team.
There is no lost sheep in this story. Surely, the boys on both teams want to win the game. Yet, something inside of them decided that it is important for Shaya to win, too. This community action is what Bonhoeffer reminds us about…”He who loves community destroys community; ho who loves the brethren builds community.”
As I look at my own call to ministry, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about how to build community, how to instill the rewards of everybody winning, sensing that it takes the will and faith of individuals to make community, and God’s grace to overcome the struggle for self-justification. Competition is age-old behavior as Luke reports, “There arose a reasoning among them which of them should be the greatest (9:46).” Perhaps no community comes together without this thought emerging as a seed of discord. The baseball teams exemplify community action rooted in love, perhaps even “God’s Perfection” as Wayne Dyer suggests. What matters is how the boys react or respond to Shaya. And this is true for Safe Haven residents as well. We are called to love people just as they are with their wounds and gifts, not as we would want them to be. Community means giving them space, helping them to grow. It also means receiving from them so that we too can grow. It is giving each other trust. With intention and loving responses, one by one and day by day, community builds at Uptown Safe Haven.