"All my instincts, they returnAnd the grand facade, so soon will burn Without a noise, without my pride I reach out from the inside" Peter Gabriel
By the time we reach 20, 40, and certainly 60, we've safely hidden our questions from the light of day. The "grand facade" we have carefully crafted over the minefield of our lives, is elaborately constructed. We wouldn't dare utter them aloud, but the questions persist nonetheless...like "a splinter in your mind". They inexplicably reach out from the inside.
When we're younger, we're much better at the "I didn't do it" kind of lying, but as we age, we become much better at the the kind of "I don't feel it" type. We seemed alarmed by the former, but almost dulled to the point of ignorance with the latter. As we age, it is dishonesty of a much more crippling nature.
- With sandlot success carefully tucked in his pocket, he asked to play organized ball.
- He seemed to regret it almost from the moment I pushed "enter" on my laptop.
- Objected to the first few practices.
- Walked cautiously up to the coach and the company of boys each day.
And then it came. At the end of the third 2 and 1/2 hour practice (the first three of his life) of almost non-stop conditioning and acclimatizing, they ran what seemed like a dozen 40 yard sprints. He found us on the edge of the practice field, gripping for a tale of exhaustion and reluctance to return. He slowly dragged his eleven year old body into the back seat and as we pull away, he said clearly and confidently:
"Well, I worked real hard and it finally paid off...I got my nickname; 'Monster'. Coach says I'm the fastest linebacker on the team."
And then he giggled, almost under his breath. Our Gray was back. Despite being the most delightful and joy filled of our six children, he had been running on short supply as of late. At his best, he is so happy and just plain full of life, he often bursts into laughter mid-sentence. He is the one that requires little, offers much, and just makes things feel better when he is around.
Seeming to lose his joy for those three days was a bitter reminder of the wreckage left from a trying year of school that ended just two months before. Despite the best of intentions of his school, the handling of his dyslexia was clumsy at best and often brutal at its' worst. He seemed to have closed in on himself, lost his confidence, and almost seemed to have forfeited everything that is important and distinctive about him.
I am not sure if the coach knows the weight of his words, but I sure do. There are questions in the heart of every boy, that left unanswered, continue to linger in the hearts of every man:
- Do you delight in me?
- Do I belong?
- Do I have what it takes?
- Am I a man?
Wednesday night, our Gray got some questions answered...powerfully, clearly, and definitionally. Ground was taken. He is a different boy because of it and progressively will be a different man. He is big, strong, and fast...someone beside dad has said so. He was excited for the next practice and will be for every one after. The answers to his questions are not only settling in his mind today, but will echo throughout his life and into eternity. Thanks coach.