But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23). Emphasis added

I watched as that little boy made his way to the plate, slowly, not with the same swiftness he had displayed earlier in this first practice. For a moment, I was confused as he stuck his fingers in his mouth, holding his bat with the other hand. After only a second, he jammed those fingers into the pocket of his thick, blue vest.  Back and forth his fingers would alternate between his mouth and his vest pocket, each hand having equal access to both places, and he struggled to balance the bat against his legs or in the palm of whichever hand was free.

What in the world? I thought. And then I realized what he was doing. His fingers are freezing, and his mouth is warm. Yet he continued. He pulled his hand out of his pocket and gripped the bat with both hands. He looked so small, so vulnerable. Rosy-cheeked, he stepped up to the plate without complaint, and he swung the bat with all his might.

And as I watched this four-year-old, tiny in comparison to the six-year-old giants, my heart swelled with pride each time the sound of the  bat cracked against the ball. He was determined; he was committed. And commitment doesn’t wait for warmer weather.

His daddy knows this truth. He knew that the box of tulips delivered to the door during a week when my soul felt sucked dry would speak volumes more than a dozen roses presented on the obligatory holiday.

He knew that with each petal that opened danced the words, “Thank you,” and as the sweet fragrance wafted under my nose, a heart was restored.

He knew the power of a simple gift, an unexpected treasure, and the weight it relieves. And he knew that the perfect time for the perfect gift is the present.

His daughter understands this lesson. She greeted her brother as he exited his church classroom, her toddler arms wrapping around his body, conveying pure joy in their reunion. An unexpected gesture immediately reciprocated, any rough edges immediately smoothed over. And as she moved to her sister, not knowing that this sister had just been ill, her embrace brought healing, the two girls tightly woven together, their heads resting on one another’s shoulders. They didn’t move in the middle of the hallway, and as I tried to nudge them to the side, they remained in their hug, unaware of anyone but each other. A simple greeting in the midst of a crowd, causing the world to blur in the background as the siblings came into focus.

I want to love as they love; I want to persevere without complaint, even when my days or months or years feel dark and cold. I want thoughtfulness to consume my being, simple gestures never far from mind, and never remaining a mere thought. And I want to love passionately, not caring what anyone thinks except the recipients of my affection.

I thought I knew how to love, but I have so much to learn. My teachers set the bar high.


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