The Heart and Soul of Baseball

The Heart and Soul of Baseball July 10, 2008

Thank reader Brendan for this one:

Sister Edwin moves from room to room, singing show tunes. She laughs the laugh of a right jolly old elf. She jingles her rosary beads the way a maintenance man jingles a ring of keys. She perspires at the lip and brow, hustling from patient to patient. “Is your sister back from Florida?” she calls to one. “How are you feeling? Did you watch the Braves game last night?” she asks, rubbing the toes of another. “Nice and easy, take it slow,” she says, cupping her hand behind the palsic head of a third, whose mouth has become too dry to swallow pills.

A Hawthorne Dominican’s apostolate dictates contemplation and service to the cancer-stricken poor. She does not proselytize or preach. Her faith is her work. She does not turn her back or recoil at the sight of suffering. Her faith is the touch of her hand, the comforting sound of her voice. The efforts she makes to know a patient, to be a friend in his last days, to soothe and comfort, are the terms of her devotion to God.

The wonderful Hawthorne Dominicans were founded by Rose Hawthorne, daughter of Nathaniel. They provide free, loving and dignified hospice care for terminally ill cancer patients. This ESPN article takes a look at the sisters, some of their patients, and Atlanta Braves coach Bobby Dews, who stumbled into the sisters – almost literally – while working through a tough time in his own life:

He ran from something. To something. He ran with a watch on his wrist, timing himself, morning after morning, remembering Faulkner’s line in “The Sound and the Fury” about time being the “mausoleum of all hopes and desires,” feeling like he’d been running all his life, feeling like his time had passed, feeling like he was dying inside.

And then one day eight or nine years ago, instead of his usual route to the east, he ran out of Turner Field and south down Crew Street, along the back side of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. A giant tree out back of the home caught his eye. He ran around front and walked in, not knowing why. Sister Edwin thinks God gave him a nudge.

Bobby says it felt like a homecoming: “It was like they were expecting me.”

He saw patients being spoon-fed, propped up and cleaned. He saw them struggle to open their eyes and speak. Now he understood: This was dying. He saw the sisters wiping brows, holding hands, whispering prayers. He saw them walk into every room with a smile and provide some measure of comfort to the patients and their families. This was acceptance. This was love. This was good work. This was time well-spent.

This is a beautiful story about the frailty and heroism that co-exists within each of us, and of course, it’s about the singular, and singularly optimistic, game of baseball – where it ain’t over ’til it’s over – which is a great metaphor for life and the way it has of offering us second chances before the final out.

I urge you to print it out and read the whole thing, and to pass it along. And before you read another story about baseball – this one rather disheartening – make sure you watch this video to the end!

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