Bunting and Kénōsis

In preparation for an upcoming poetry event here at CUA I read through some of the poetry of David Bottoms. I was struck by the one of the poems in particular. It speaks of a father teaching his son to bunt and operates in the poem as something of a metaphor for the sacrificial nature of parenting. A bunt is a strategy employed in which the batter sacrifices himself in order to advance another runner to the next base. There is no glory in a bunt, no fame, no coverage on sports center. It is an image of the kind of life we are called to imitate as we imitate Christ. Putting others first, giving up our lives so that others might live. Emptying ourselves, and letting go. Living lives of humility and service. This is the image of Christ. Christ is not seen most clearly in the great things people accomplish but in the little sacrifices for love made every day. Read the poem below. I hope it inspires you to love more, it inspired me.

SIGN FOR MY FATHER, WHO STRESSED THE BUNT
By David Bottoms

On the rough diamond,
the hand-cut field beneath the dog lot and the barn,
we rehearsed the strict technique
of bunting. I watched from the infield,
the mound, the backstop
as your left hand climbed the bat, your legs
and shoulders squared toward the pitcher.
You could drop it like a seed
down either base line. I admired your style,
but not enough to take my eyes off the bank
that served as our center-field fence.

Years passed, three leagues of organized ball,
no few lives. I could homer
into the garden beyond the bank,
into the left-field lot of Carmichael Motors,
and still you stressed the same technique,
the crouch and spring, the lead arm absorbing
just enough impact. That whole tiresome pitch
about basics never changing,
and I never learned what you were laying down.

Like the hand brushed across the bill of a cap,
let this be the sign
I’m getting a grip on the sacrifice.

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