For Love of the Game

I have really loved playing basketball on Tuesday nights over the past few months. Some nights, there is so much energy, and other nights, I come up with many excuses of why I’m holding back. “I’m tired”, “someone else will get the rebound”, “I hurt my thumb”, “oh look, a piece of fuzz that looks like a seahorse.” (that last one is not an excuse, but you would be amazed at the things you notice while avoiding hustling).

lazy-dog

And then there’s Open Gym on Friday.

dunk

The guys tonight were laughing and trying to dunk left and right. A lot of tomfoolery, some ridiculousness and outrageous attempts, but also audacity. I don’t think they noticed how tired they were getting until the very end. They were too focused on how much fun they were having, and getting that perfect dunk. I think I had more energy during game 3 because their drive and spirit wore off on me. I’m physically tired and it’s past this granny’s bedtime, but I’m going to bed refreshed with hope. I’m so grateful for these guys.

A reflection by Hope House resident, Sara Haines

Hope Beyond the Ivy

A reflection by Hope House resident, Molly Gabaldo.

WELP. They did it. The Cubs took the cup. It’s about time!

Wrigley-Field.jpg

I have enjoyed, throughout my life, the blessing and the curse of being a cradle Cubs fan. Most Cub fans understand what I mean when I say that I never really left that cradle, always returning for comfort for our inevitable string of losses, year after year after year. I have vivid memories of watching the game with my dad, TV muted (of course) so he could hear the radio announcers on the speakers that only worked in the garage: commitment. With every loss, I never recall a time where I questioned my seemingly unanimous familial decision to commit ourselves to Cub fandom. Why? Because being a Cubs fan cultivates within you a sense of undying hope in a seemingly hopeless battle against all odds (namely, a goat called Murphy).

Okay, fine. Maybe my analogy is a little dramatic, it’s just a game, right? But the reality is that waiting 108 years for your beloved team to win the World Series is having faith in something greater than baseball. It is recognizing your part within a community, a community built on hope and tradition, a community built on family and common perseverance in the quest for victory. This is the same hope we must cultivate within hearts on a quest for social justice in a society where the ‘signs of the times’ are pointing towards all odds being against us. This journey is, and will, continue on for much longer than 108 years and will not end with a beautifully executed double play. However, garnering hope brings with it great pride and greater reward.

So, Chicago. Let us now believe in our community in the same way that we believe in the Cubs. Let us pour our resources and hearts into recognizing beauty within loss. Let us rally around those within our city who hold this same hope but pour it into their survival in circumstances where all odds seem to be working against them. It is our responsibility. It is our pride. #LetsGo

Love Thy Neighbor

A reflection by Hope House resident, Sara Haines

With regards to social justice, many of us I’m sure are aware of the typical dichotomies: rich and poor, weak and strong, powerful and powerless, etc. The phrase “to love one’s neighbor” also comes to lovemind, and I think of my homeless neighbor, my work neighbor, my basketball neighbor, etc. But what about the rich neighbor, strong neighbor, or powerful neighbor? I ran into a situation where in trying to love one neighbor, I found myself enemy to the other.

I travelled 100+ miles in two hours to Pontiac Correctional Facility with a client so she could see her sweetheart for the first time in two years. Being in her mid sixties, she forgot many details from two years ago, but she told me of the joy that seeing him brought her. Upon entering the prison, the guard wasted no time welcoming us. He talked over my client to me, and when he did speak to her, he used a condescending and exasperated tone of voice. Maybe he didn’t like us because we were city folk in this little town. Who knows.

After twenty minutes of patronizing, he denied entry to my client because she was not dressed according to protocol. He contacted additional staff to confirm that the rules hadn’t changed since she last visited, and spoke loud enough so that all the visitors waiting heard that “she had no excuse for not knowing clothing protocol.” After getting off the phone he continued to shame her saying, “Don’t tell me you didn’t know.” Embarrassed at her failing memory and distraught at possibly not seeing her sweetheart, my client composed herself and, with all sincerity, thanked the guard for the only help he did provide, the suggestion to go to the nearest store to purchase appropriate attire.

After a drive to Walmart, she was able to visit as planned and treated the guard with kindness, but I could not bring myself to look at him. He could have explained her error in so many ways, but chose to play hard ball, no compassion in sight. Replaying her kindness to him in my head stoked my anger even more. But when I found myself thinking “he didn’t deserve it,” I knew I needed to hit the breaks.

Suddenly as I left the prison, an image came to mind: two siblings were stand
ing before their father right after one
hurt the other. The father didn’t side with the victim, or shame the offender. Rather, his heart hurt for both. It hurt him to see his daughter wounded and see that his son loved so little and inflicted pain. I felt like God was saying, “you want to love one person, but I have something better. I want you to love both. You want justice, but there’s something better. It’s mercy.”

Continuing to reflect on my client’s response, I realized that she was like the daughter who, after seeing her father hurt with her, looked at her brother with love, forgiveness, and mercy. I also realized that an ounce of her mercy weighed more than a pound of my anger, because God used it to soften my own hardness of heart towards my brother. I soon found myself pitying the guard. My heart ached for him and his hard  heart. And that ache turned into prayer. I prayed for him, that my client’s mercy would leave just enough of an imprint on his heart that, at the right time, he would encounter mercy again and that it would change his life.

 

 

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Philippians 2:1-2