Bottom of the 9th - Thanksgiving #1, Visiting
by Meredith Weide
â€œLet your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt...â€ Colossians 4:6
Our farm house was situated a little way back from Highway 24 in north-central Kansas. After supper, the table conversation usually extended outside to the wrapped-around front porch. â€œLetâ€™s have a visit,â€ was the invitation to pull up a chair or a floor board and talk. People drove by on the road and honked, waved, and often turned around and drove in to join us on the porch. Mama kept a plate of cookies and a pitcher of iced tea on the kitchen table for just such occasions. The lovely people of my rural childhood were visitors (in this case, visitors is a verb!). To go visiting was a common activity, usually not prefaced with any kind of invitation or warning, hence the always awaiting cookies and tea.
I did my best learning in the midst of the visiting. My parents were fiercely intelligent, welcoming people and the conversation crackled lively. Mama was a city girl (from the 300 strong population of Cawker City) and Daddy was a farm boy. Mama was a Methodist and Daddy was a Catholic. Mama was a Republican and Daddy was a Democrat. Religion and politics were never taboo subjects! Around their supper table, I learned how love and tolerance are the common denominator of living well in spite of differences. I also learned that any good argument has two valid points of view at their core, or it is not worth the arguing. At the center of it all, was this wonderful avenue of communication referred to as visiting.
I see glimpses that remind me of the exchanges of my childhood when I witness the ever present texting that takes place among friends, colleagues, and family. I love seeing the smiles on faces as they walk and â€œtalkâ€ with someone who could be a world away. The human connection is incredible (with or without a front porch). I have seen the exchange on the baseball diamond as well. Blake Johnson, former Valor first baseman, was fun to eavesdrop upon during a game or practice. He used to chat with the base hits that spent any time at his base. It was a pleasant combination of teasing and compliment and those â€œguy wordsâ€ that speak volumes with a minimum of exchange (i.e. â€œDudeâ€, â€œBroâ€, â€œHeyâ€). Even among professional players you often see first base as that place where a little good natured visiting takes place. Home Plate visiting, however, can have a much different tone to it. Seems like that is where differences of opinion are expressed more freely â€“ sometimes to the tune of a manager being sent to the club house to finish his visiting there (never saw that on my home porch!). One of my favorite visits is watching Mike Timlin make a trip to the mound. A visit from the pitching coach is usually an indication that there is some sort of turmoil in the midst. Not being privy to the words that are exchanged, I can only imagine what is said, but I can tell by the body language that a difference is made. Countless times I have seen Mikeâ€™s strong right hand rest on the slumped shoulder of a pitcher as he wills confidence back into the heart and mind of a young man.
The message from Colossians (Paul doing a little visiting via a letter), is such a precise guide. Words should be spoken with grace and seasoned as if with salt. Those are the manner of words I remember from the porch â€“ gracefully chosen and colorfully seasoned! Somewhere in all that growing up, Mama joined the Catholic church, and Daddy became a Republican. Can visiting bring about change? understanding? When it is done with grace, it can!
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