If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Baseball Cards and Relationships

I wrote this many years ago. I thought it good to share it with you:
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Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away (James 4:14).

It's been fifty years, but I still remember the fun we had collecting baseball cards. For a few cents my friends and I purchased photos and playing histories of the sport's greatest. I kept mine safely in a shoe box. Whitey Ford, Willey Mays, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Sandy Koufax.... we catalogued them, traded them, "flipped" for them. In fact, flipping for cards was easily one of our favorite pastimes.

It was all in the wrist. If I held the long edges of the card with just the right tension between my thumb and the fingers of my right hand, and then flicked my wrist with just the right snap, the card would twirl to the ground with a fair degree of predictable accuracy. If my "heads" matched my friends "heads" already on the ground, I won. If it mismatched, I lost. I collected a lot of baseball cards by flipping.

But as the years passed, my once compelling interest in baseball cards waned. Other things captured my attention. And without realizing it, my revered Whitey Fords and Mickey Mantles ended up scattered across the bottom of my chest of drawers or on the floor beneath my bed. By the time I was thirteen I no longer owned a baseball card.

Had I known then what I know now about the value of those cards, things would have been different. Flip them to the ground? Never! Leave them scattered around the house? Are you kidding? Some of those cards are worth several hundreds of dollars today. And to think I let mine gather dust beneath my bed.

Older now . . . and hopefully a measure wiser, baseball cards have taught me an important lesson about the value of things often taken for granted. Like relationships.

Marriage, for example.

It used to be I could count on one hand (well, maybe two) the number of failed marriages among my friends. Now I've lost track. Had each couple planned, as they stood before the altar, their future division? I doubt it. Rather, each vowed their life-long commitment, full of promises and romance. But then pressures of work, of raising a family, and who knows what else began taking their toll. And somehow romance and promises wound up collecting dust between the covers of photo albums or scattered like so many nick‑nacks across a passionless house. And without realizing what was happening while it was happening, they flipped their relationships aside like so much valueless clutter.

Relationships.

Like between a parent and child. How many moms and dads have lost touch with the value of their children? When the kids were younger they played ball together, went for picnics, had tea parties. But now there's precious little time to do much as a family. Monday is PTA. Tuesday, scouts. Wednesday is bingo. Thursday, bowling. Friday is whatever. Then comes the weekend, and who can crawl out of bed? And so weeks roll into years, and memories collect dust and cobwebs.

But the saddest of all examples of outgrown relationships is the way many "outgrow" their relationship with God. Where Mass had once been an important part of childhood, where stories of Moses and David, of Paul and Jesus had been the stuff on which they were nurtured, fishing trips, shopping at the Mall, or just sleeping in, now take precedence on Sundays. The value of a once vibrant relationship with the God of the Universe has lost personal meaning for a large and growing number of people.

Relationships can so easily become strained or torn asunder between a mom or dad . . . a spouse . . . a child. Even with God. But the choice, where the choice may still be made, is ours. We can flip our treasures to the ground, or safely protect them. One way or the other, each of us will learn in time, relationships with one another are of much more worth and of more infinite value than things like baseball cards.

2 comments:

Randy said...

yes, relationships and bb cards are alike, the longer you hold onto them, the more valuable they become :). I like the analogy!

Richard Maffeo said...

thanks, Randy.