Last weekend I attended a fund-raiser held by the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team at John Thurman Field in Modesto. These brave young men (and one wonderful woman by the name of Crystal Bustos, a former Olympian Gold Medal Winner in Women's Softball) put on an exhibition of athleticism that was just amazing to watch. Many of them are single amputees but one player is a double amputee and his prosthesis look like sleek rubber legs as he ran and jumped and dove for slopping high pops to center field.
These men served in the War on Terror and all branches of our military are represented. They served in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Kabul and the Helmand Province. They stepped on IEDs, crashed motorcylces while under sniper fire, sniffed out bombs with their dogs - they have done it all. They keep doing it, too.
What exactly is 'it' that they are doing?
What they are doing is living a life that is essentially free from the narcissistic slavery so many of us find ourselves subject to today. They are looking inward to find their core strength but they are not settled upon that view; rather they then turn their gazes outward with a simple question, "How can I help?".
Essentially, that is what I do as a Catholic. I am not nearly as good at it as these guys are and I don't think I would ever be able to demonstrate the bravery they have and do with such grace and ease. I think my own selfish character would kick in and I would be one of those people scanning the crowd wondering if people were looking at what a good job I am doing being brave.
However, what I am called to do is serve. The simple sentence, "How can I help?" is the foundation upon which my faith is built. It is the reason God stepped into time and space; He came to help. Instead of turning His attention away from this marvelous result of His Love, He stepped into our world and took on our very nature in order to say, "How can I help?".
The very nature of God stems from the desire for something more, something found outside ourselves. My journey has led me further and further from the needs and desires I once thought were essential for a person to have a full and complete life. I cannot with all honesty say I am free from them. There is the occasional longing for what I can only vaguely describe as 'a normal life'. However, as time goes on I realize that the life I have been given - while far from normal - is pretty dang awesome. I am rarely unhappy any more. I am sometimes sad, or scared, or worried but I am rarely REALLY unhappy. I sleep soundly, face each day with a clear head and determination to try hard not to screw it up. Most of the time, I make it.
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team did more last week than raise money for their worthy cause (they run camps for kids who have lost limbs). Those brave and loving men demonstrated to me how important it is to trust, to learn, to go forward and to let go. Every time I can not ask 'what is in it for me' is time well spent.
Thank you, God, for my life today exactly as it is...I would not change a thing, even if I could...and I can't....so I won't.....