Thursday, December 17, 2009

Come Out to Play, Inner Child

One morning in late summer, once upon a time, I was getting ready to walk down to my office just a few blocks away. In these daily walks I sometimes passed a house where a little boy could be seen outside mostly just killing time as far as I could tell. I usually spoke to him and now and then I could see a woman whom I assumed was the boy's mother. On this particular day as I was about to leave the house the doorbell rang. When I opened the door and then the outer storm door there stood this little boy. He was holding a bat, glove and ball. When I opened the outer door he said, "Can you come out and play?" It took me all of 5 seconds to answer, "Absolutely! Give me 1 minute."

It took me less time than that to put on jeans and a T-shirt and to go out. The boy and I, his name was Sam, crossed the street in front of my house, and went onto a vacant lot. For the good part of an hour I pitched the ball to him as he became adept at hitting. When I had worn myself out chasing balls hit over my head I told him I needed to get to work but that he could come again and I'd play with him. We did that several times before he started to school in the first grade.

One day when I walked past his house his mother was there. She said to me, "I want to thank you for playing with Sam, his father isn't here anymore and he doesn't have any brothers, he gets lonesome. He told me you had said he might very well play for the Cardinals some day. He was very excited."

"Coming out to play" doesn't have to mean hitting a ball or kicking one around. It can mean letting someone help us with our loneliness or getting rid of old prejudices. It can mean pitching out of our psyche troubling resentments and jealousies that thrive in all of us. It can mean letting out for useful purposes positive, helpful, healing attitudes and acts.

Tell you what! Why don't you get up now from wherever you're seated, during this second week of Advent. Go to the door, open it, and with your very best imagination and playfulness, envision another little boy, having come straight from his house in Nazareth standing there saying to you, "Can you come out and play?"

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