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Thursday, June 20, 2013

For Gavin: Orange Ribbons of Love

I was going to write a Daybook today.  But if I filled in the spaces for what I am thinking, what I am wondering, what I am hoping, what I am praying?  At this early hour in the morning, they are all centered on one boy.  A boy who does not belong to me.  A boy I do not know.

If you have been a friend of mine on Facebook or read any of this blog lately you have read about this tournament and this day and about this night.  Perhaps you have not read of this boy though.

This is Gavin.  Gavin is thirteen.  Gavin lives not far from me.  Gavin is a baseball player.  Gavin could be my child or your child or your neighbor's child.  I'm most thankful today that Gavin is God's child.  Again, I don't know Gavin. My son met him briefly at the Kyle's Kamp Baseball tournament which benefits children with cancer last year.  I met his father briefly at a charity benefit for the tournament in April.  I saw Gavin on May 19th at Nationals Park when his team played on the Major League field.  He wore a dirty baseball uniform and he looked like any other boy except, I did think, "Justin Bieber ain't got nothin' on that kid.  That kid is flat out dreamy."  

Because look at this face.  Am I right?

Gavin has been fighting brain cancer since 2011.  On his Caring Bridge site earlier this week, his parents wrote that a recent MRI had shown that medicines and treatments were no longer able to contain the tumors and that they had multiplied.  While they continue to fight and will not let cancer take their courageous spirit, they have stopped treatments.

Our travel baseball league sent out a message asking for prayer and urging players to wear orange ribbons in support of Gavin.  Our All-Star players will be receiving their jerseys soon, but as Little League rules prevent us from putting the ribbons on the jerseys (although we're working on that), one of the moms suggested we put them on the players' bat bags.

So yesterday I quickly added "Pick up orange ribbons" to my to-do list.  In between all my little mundane tasks, I raced to pick up the pins and the ribbon and hustled back to my car to hurry, hurry, hurry and pick up Joe from the golf course, drop off his golfing buddy, take Joe to church, pick up Drew from the pool, feed Drew, run back to the baseball field with the orange ribbons, run back home for the forgotten scissors and run back to the field, so that I could put them on the players' bat bags.

Run, run, hurry, hurry, don't think about it too much.  Don't see that face.  Don't picture those parents.  Just check off the task.  The ribbons, the ribbons, we need the ribbons.  The ribbons will make a difference . . . some how, some way, I can control this with the ribbons.  I can make it better with the ribbons.

Then I stubbed my toe getting into the car and the tears started from the pain in my toe and then they kept flowing in buckets down my cheeks and I sobbed and sniffled as I raced back home through the neighborhood seeing the beautiful face of that beautiful boy flash in my head and thinking, "Ribbons?  Ribbons?  Orange ribbons tied in a bow pinned to the bat bags of healthy, running, ball throwing, giggling baseball players?  What in the HELL is that going to do?  What in the HELL, God?  These ribbons will not get that boy back on that field.  These ribbons will not give those parents a healthy boy . . . a boy who will toss his stinky cleats on the family room floor even though you have told him 753 times to leave them in the garage, a boy who will throw open the fridge declaring that HE.IS.STARVING, a boy who does not deserve to feel this kind of pain and fear." 

And I cried and shook and wanted to throw my spool of orange ribbon out of the window, but then I turned up the radio and I heard THIS SONG.  No lie.  I'm not taking any kind of writer's creative license here.  This is the song God sent me right then as snot and tears ran down my face and it was exactly this verse that He sent me where the singer recites these words:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
And I knew.  1 Corinthians 13 again.  The ribbons by themselves might feel like the creaking of a rusty gate.  The ribbons on their own won't bring healing.  The ribbons won't bring a new medicine.  The ribbons are not miracles, not wisdom, not promises.  But they are not useless. They are not bankrupt because the ribbons are about love.  They are about God saying to us, "You are right.  I am the only one left to bring the miracle, but YOU still have a job and the only job you must do now is to love." 

When faith and hope are difficult to muster, we are simply to love. I wrote earlier this year that when we look into the eyes of raw pain, love isn't only the greatest to give, it might be all we have to give.

And in this case, since most of us on this baseball team don't know Gavin and his family personally, we will love them in the only way we can right now.  Our love looks like orange ribbons.  Orange ribbons on jerseys and around poles and pinned on bat bags.  Orange ribbons tied with hands that folded with her own 12 year old baseball player's hands and as his tears spilled on the pillow, a mother and son pleaded bold prayers for that gorgeous kid.  Our ribbons will not be bankrupt because our ribbons are love. 

God bless you, Gavin Rupp.

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