Traveling to Texas to watch the game between the FCA All-Stars and the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, I had many thoughts running through my head. I wondered what I would see, hear and feel during the event. However, I never imagined that I would be so impacted by the character of these outstanding individuals.
What I Saw
Saturday was the fourth time these two teams have played each other. This is a game that will be remembered for many years to come. The typical dry Texas weather gave way to heavy rains on Saturday, and turned a beautiful field into a muddy mess by the 4th inning. Despite these conditions, I witnessed the bright light of people who love life.
I saw Wounded Warriors who have seen the worst in life, and who fought through the toughest battles. These people have been knocked down and have gotten back up again to live life.
I watched Olympic athletes who have battled to the top of the sport and achieved gold, giving back to the sport that they love. I saw fierce competitors who would not let a little adversity stand in the way of winning.
Mostly I saw joy with no boundaries, no pretenses, and no expectations. It is the same kind of joy that is found in the eyes of a child jumping in a mud puddle.
What I Heard
There was no complaining on Saturday. Instead what I heard was laughter. These athletes we having a fantastic time playing a game that they love and it could be heard in their words to each other. There was friendly banter between the teams and teammates. Players were cheering for great plays and ribbing each other about errors. Through the laughter I could hear true fellowship. They encouraged each other to play harder. They helped each other out of the mud and hugged one another at the end of the game. I could hear compassionate people sharing their joy.
Yet the most moving thing I heard was from a young boy in the stands, himself with prosthetic legs and no hands, cheering on the Wounded Warriors. I could only surmise that these were his heroes playing that day and it moved me to tears.
What I Felt
I was warmed by the spirit of these amazing individuals. I felt welcomed and included by everyone on the field. I felt like a child without a care in the world. I felt the pure joy that comes from playing in the mud.
The rain was not felt in the sense of it being a cold and invasive thing; instead it was a warm and cleansing rain. It washed away any expectations or concerns for the day. It brought everyone to the same starting place.
It was a moment for me where I learned firsthand the meaning of finding joy in tough times. Doing so creates perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Neither of these teams is short on character, and character wins every time.
I felt honored to be standing on the same field as these amazing people. I was humbled by their generosity, love, character and sacrifice. It might have been raining in Texas, but I never felt it.
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