It seems almost impossible to believe, but on an August day 53 years ago, I caught my first glimpse of #25 of the Boston Red Sox. My father had brought my brother and me to our very first major league baseball game. The Red Sox were mired in last place, and there was hardly anyone at Fenway Park that day; indeed they seemed rather disinterested about the whole affair until a young man named Tony Conigliaro stepped to the plate to pinch hit. Suddenly the ballpark was alive with excitement! Right then and there, “Tony C.” as he was called then, became my idol. If ever there was anyone destined for stardom it was #25. And his career moved along splendidly until another August day when he was hit just below his left eye with a baseball.
Tony C. made a courageous comeback, played baseball for two more years, but his career ended at the age of 30. Fifteen years later, he suffered a massive heart attack and was physically and mentally impaired until he died in 1990 at the young age of 45. What a horrific twist of fate that one so talented, who possessed so much promise, should have his life end so sadly. Never does the month of August
come, when I don’t think of that untimely end.
All of which has led me to think today of life, and the brevity of it. The years do pass so quickly; time slips away. And often life comes to a screeching halt far sooner than we would expect or desire. Our church family has a number of such losses in recent weeks. Events like these are tragic and shocking, but they do, at the very least, make us more conscious of our mortality; they have a way of making us
more aware of the friends and loved ones that are so important to us, and they can serve to remind us of the importance of making each day count. As James reminds us, “Life is like a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes.”
Years ago, I read of a photographer who won an award for a picture he had taken. A young woman had been found dead, alone in her car, after an overdose of some drug. Using a wide angle lens, the photographer was able to take a picture showing this woman sprawled across the seat of her car, and through the front window, the adjoining parking meter read, “Time Expired;” a rather dramatic and graphic way of reminding us again of the brevity of life.
Yet, we need not allow this thought to make us fearful or unhappy. For as God’s people, we know some good news; news of Jesus Christ who, by his own violent death at a young age on a Roman cross, took the sting out of sin and death, and brought immortality to light through the Gospel. Thanks be to God, who throws this “rainbow of hope” and victory around our futures.
In Him, Pastor Joel
Rev. Dr. Doris Barron-Shell