Sunday, November 20, 2016

Shagging flies with Father Smith

I have a bad habit when curling. I tend to jog down the ice when it's my turn to throw a stone, and that's something you should never do: run on ice. I've injured myself quite spectacularly more than once doing that. So even as I tell new curlers not to run on the ice, I turn around and do it myself. With abandon.

Last Friday as I curled I religiously followed that old habit. And I had a lot of change in my pocket. It jingled heartily as I jogged down the sheet. Shing, shing, shing was the sound I made as I ran toward the far hack to deliver my curling rock. And halfway down sheet six last night, as I jogged to throw my shots in the second end, I found myself reminded of a Sunday afternoon quite a few years ago.

When I was young, my dad would often take my brother and I to a field right across the street from our Church and we would all take turns hitting and fielding a baseball. One such day our Pastor, Fr. Smith, saw us as we pretended at baseball and asked if he might play along. And as we had extra gloves and only needed one bat, and as he was our pastor (and good friend of Pops), we said sure.

Fr. Smith took a glove and we all tossed the old pill around to warm up. Then Father hit a few, then grabbed a glove and went out into the field. And I learned very quickly that he was a serious ballplayer.

He tracked down every fly ball anywhere near him. His keys gave away his determination. As pastor of our parish, he had all kinds of keys, and seemed to have them all in his pockets that far ago Sunday afternoon. He stalked every fly ball with almost reckless abandon, running down whatever ones dared enter his territory. And his keys made this emphatic sound, shing, shing, shing, as he tracked down the baseballs which challenged him.

He was a great guy, Fr. Smith. And of all things, I found myself remembering him and that day fondly, on Friday while on the curling ice. Funny, eh?

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