Here I am on a Sunday afternoon sitting in the bleachers next to Cody, my grandnephew, a sixth grader. We are watching his fifth grade brother, Drew, play basketball.
The score was 2-2 after the first quarter and I had begun to think this might be a nice, close, interesting game for a change. But the other team got hot, and here it is, in the middle of the third quarter, and we’re down 20-4. But both teams are playing their little hearts out, as indicated by their red faces, sweaty hair, and the steady squeak-squeak-squeak of their sneakers. At any given time one of boys is lying flat on the floor while others are taking shots that don’t go even near the basket or (on rare occasions) shots that are all net. And it’s wonderful to watch. Boring at times, yes, but somehow still wonderful. (I learned long ago that boring and wonderful are not mutually exclusive.)
And I’m surprised and delighted to have Cody all to myself right now which seldom happens at family get-together’s. Too many people. But here we are perched upon the top row of the small set of portable bleachers talking. His Dad (my nephew) is the assistant coach for Drew’s team so he’s by the bench doing what all good coaches do: yelling encouraging words to his team. Cody’s Mom is on my right, chatting with me and with other friends in the bleachers.
Cody is contentedly sucking on his blue Ring Pop candy that looks suspiciously to me like one giant pacifier. I ask him how school’s going. “Good,” he says. I had expected an “Okay” so a good is very good And we talk about the bridge that he and a classmate spent hours building out of balsa wood and entered into a science fair and won an award for. The bridge supported 32 pounds of sand before it broke. 32 pounds! Taking the candy out of his mouth, Cody says, “I was really surprised it held that much. I would have predicted half that weight.” And I marvel how he’s already beginning to sound a little like an engineer.
Then we’re on to NASCAR and when I ask him who his favorite driver is, he says without even having to think about
it: Kasey Kahne and he spells out the whole name for me (K-A-S-E-Y K-A-H-N-E) because he’s suspecting I never heard of the guy (which is right) and that I’m thinking it’s Casey Cane or Kasey Kane (which is right again.) And then we’re talking about the chickens his family has
which he and Drew are in charge of. And he tells me they collect about a dozen eggs every day in the summer but only 2 or so in the winter. I say, “Chickens take it easy during the winter.” He nods. And I add, “Like we humans would do too—if we were as smart as chickens!” And he laughs and agrees with an enthusiastic “YEAH!”
We move from smart chickens to the Cleveland Cavaliers and mull over their chances for an NBA title this year. And we both express a little hope but (being from Cleveland where no sports team has won a title since 1948) we have already begun to steel ourselves for yet another disappointing and heart-wrenching season.
That’s how the dialogue goes during the duration of the game—punctuated by silences as we watch the game and cheer the rare baskets our team makes. It’s all small talk, I know, but somehow the small talk connects the two of us in a good way—this 12-year-old boy and this 70-year-old “old lady” who are also connected genetically because his grandpa was my brother John. Later that evening as I recall some of the blessings of this day, my time sitting in the bleachers with Cody is right up there at the top of the list. And I find myself thanking God for Cody and the personable and good kid he’s turned out to be. I know I see my brother in him—the solid physique, the height, the ready smile. Cody was upbeat in the bleachers even though earlier in the day his basketball team had lost about 25-7. “But I made two out of my three foul shots,” he said, not boasting, just stating a simple and comforting fact.
Little moments like sitting in the bleachers with Cody are ordinary. Very ordinary. But they are sacred too. Very sacred. For I believe that the good and the beautiful and the true are always with us—often lying just beneath the surface of the everyday, transforming the ordinary into the sacred, the common into the holy, the quotidian into the blessed—and leading us to be immeasurably grateful to God for the one precious human life we have been given. Amen.
What “little moments” in ordinary life do you find sacred?
Does anything make you especially grateful for the one precious human life you have been given?