Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?
It is keeping peace and good relations between people,
as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.
- Prophet Mohammed
Yesterday was my father's birthday. He turned 59 this year. I guess that might still seem young to some, but as I've gotten older and see my family less and less, their age becomes more apparent and certainly more pronounced. I shared a song with him in an email that works well for family.
When 고운 and I discuss our future and life in America, it invariably comes back to one thing: I want have to coach my son's baseball team.
There are few things that I want in this life. I want my children to be worldly, compassionate and concerned for the earth and their fellow man; my marriage solid and I want to coach my son's (or daughter's) baseball team. It might sound odd, but as we all know, Kristin and I had the amazing experience of having Dad coach our teams as we grew up. This was a bond that will forever stick with me and nothing can ever compare to some of the times that Dad and I shared together with the baseball.
Baseball is not my favorite sport -American football is, but when I look at a baseball diamond or see a glove or baseball, the memories come rushing back.
First, let me start by saying that Dad is not an athlete. In fact, I would be so bold to say that he is one of the most unathletic people I know, but that didn't stop him from trying failing to jump on a trampoline for the first at 40 years old or playing hours and hours of shuffleboard and ping pong with me and it certainly didn't stop him from being one of the best coaches a young boy could have.
I say "best", but it wasn't because he had supreme knowledge of the sport. That wasn't necessary for the hoards of little-leaguers that he would guide through the beginnings of the game. He was the best because of the enthusiasm that he showed while coaching. I remember sitting with Dad on so many occasions while we would figure out each players batting averages and try to find the best place for them to bat in the line-up. He would spend months talking to other coaches, trying to find the best players for the upcoming little league draft. He had an unrivaled enthusiasm for baseball season and a gift for a fun, encouraging and productive practice. No matter how busy he was at work, he always seemed to be able to pull away and hit a few balls at practice or toss it around in our small and stick-riddled back yard.
To Dad, it wasn't about baseball. It was time with his children and family. As we know, he didn't have a close relationship with his father. There seemed to be some favoritism in the family and the attention was on Margaret Rose, rather than little Johnny. Maybe it was his adoption or maybe it was his father's inability to convey emotions well, but Dad told me about his rocky relationship with his father and always made it very clear to me that he did not intend our relationship to turn out like that. Baseball was his conduit. It was his way of opening the door to a close relationship with his children and wife. He didn't really love baseball; he loved what baseball stood for in our family.
And as life has continued on and I am no longer a boy, I will always have those memories; those amazingly special, loving and youthful memories. I will always be thankful for his enthusiasm and love that came from that beautiful baseball diamond. Unlike Dad, I will not have to tell my children that I was never close to my father. And I can guarantee you that there will be another Coach Hogan around within the decade and, luckily, I learned from the best.
That was two years ago. Since then, I have only seen my dad twice and I need to do a better job for sure, but since becoming an adult, I have always felt that we had a silent bond. We've never really followed the rules of a traditional father-son relationship anyways. What works for some, doesn't work for all. The Quakers knew that as well. They had no intention of starting their own denomination of Christianity -it just happened that way.
Beliefs are not just safe ledges in an uncertain reality, but rather handholds from which further heights can be reached. -Eleven Quaker Scientists, 1989
As you know, I've been spending an awful lot of time this month in silent prayer. I love it. True
Silence ... is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. -William Penn 1692
In that time, I've thought about lot of things. This came to mind about my father.