My feet squared, tipped all too slightly to threaten, and if anything, cued them in that I was half committed and mostly unsure.
The dust lifted only to fall right back in its place not too undisturbed - not the same effect as those who mean to be there fully. Hopeful cheers arose from behind. Slurred sounds caught the corner of my ear as my coach, too, hoped I’d connect.
I would not hit the ball then. I knew it before I even cocked the bat behind my right shoulder. The swing would be valiant and the follow through not all that bad, but I would miss the whole moment as my eyes would tighten shut when it mattered most. A good opportunity would be missed, as would two more. And then the dugout where I watched.
The glory is in the seeing.
My dad used to tell me often, “You’ll never hit a ball you don’t see. Keep your eyes open until you feel the contact.” Mind you, he’d tell me this as he wildly swung a baseball attached to a 12-foot rope round and round with intimidating force, but he meant all the well in the world. Each time the ball whirled by, my eyes closed tight, he repeated the instruction and didn’t stop swinging the ball. I swear he’d swing faster each time as if to push the fear right out of me.
What he didn’t tell me outright, I learned deep within then - the longer you stand there, the less fear holds.
Suffering speaks through the dark of our heart, in the spaces we push it into and try to manage and hide and make pretty enough for us to seem okay still.
I’ll bet you’re a tinge more messed up than you allow us to believe, a bit more hidden than most know, hidden behind books to help and schedules to buffer and words to deflect true conversation. We live busy with the wondering about the next day all while our eyes remained closed to the day whirling just past us. That’s the effect of suffering: moments buried. Truth is, life will always hold all potential to spoil in the flicker of a moment. Everyone of us suffers, to different levels, no doubt, but suffering finds us all. Inexplicably bad things happen to us and yet life keeps whirling by in rhythm of dusk and dawn. Dawn, another promise echoing on repeat to keep your eyes open and make contact. Swing again and again and another time and again. Keep your eyes open until you feel the contact, the ball meeting the bat and your life connecting to day again. Swing.
How easily suffering pushes the strongest of us to the side, boasting the circumstance unbearable and forever. But life is now, in this pitch and this swing. Your eyes must stay open, as must your heart to trust God. No matter the suffering - no matter - dawn will always swallow the night and light will always displace dark. This is the truth that found me sinking in suffering, tangled in fractured thoughts and bewildered by loss.
The glory is in the seeing - seeing the dawn new and promised pushing in whether welcomed or not. God was in my dad that day swinging wildly. It was then I learned to keep my eyes open expectantly until I made contact again.