I knew a boy who grew up in my neighborhood a few years younger than me. Talk about talent. He had a rocket launcher for an arm, a fastball that was un-seeable so forget about being merely un-hittable and just about every high school girl had a crush (or more) on him. I remember hearing that he got a full scholarship for playing baseball at a powerhouse university out west. He never made it to the “big leagues.” In fact he never made it out of his 20’s.
I remember being saddened when learning of his passing: homeless, on drugs, unloved and virtually unrecognizable – a sad legacy of the 60’s underculture of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. I can’t ever say we were “friends.” We only associated with each other rather than “knowing one another.” We competed with and against each other. We sometimes (not often) shared stories. We complained about country and family and where the world was going. We chose different paths.
I sometimes sit and wonder at why life takes us in the directions that it does. Why was I blessed never to suffer from the diseased “isms” of alcoholism or drug addiction? Why have I known forgiveness for my weaknesses, inadequacies and sins where some far more talented and worthy than I may have been crushed by them?
This is not about the unfairness of life. Life is unfair – deal with it! But on the morning of rushing about preparing for a blizzard, I can still sit here with incredible gratitude for blessings received, friendships that remain, and the love of a life’s partner that nourishes me even though she is unwell. To walk the path that keeps us in a right relationship with God often means being humble enough to know that it is never about only my talent or only my abilities. As St. Paul wrote and as Augustine and Luther knew so well: it is always about divine grace. What has been done for us by our God! And Lent for me is always the reminder that God has done so much for me. Do you accept that love? Do you accept God’s call to be in a right relationship? That to me is what Lent is really about: letting God steer us back on track.