The first significant purchase I ever made with my own money was the baseball glove I'm holding right now. I was thirteen. It's a Rawlings. Basket web. Wing tip. Heart of the Hide. American-made. Brooks Robinson model. It cost $112 in 1978, which represented a lot of mown lawns for me back then. It was purchased from Barcelona Sporting Goods off the Katy Freeway. I got it engraved with my name, G. Funderburk. You can still see some of the letters though mostly they have worn away. I used it in the Bronco, Pony, and Colt leagues in the Spring Branch-Memorial Sports Association, then in college intra-murals and in law school softball tournaments, through summer rec games in Houston and more tournaments in San Antonio as a young adult. More recently, both my boys used the glove in West University Little League.
It's 42 years old, and it's been a part of a generation of memories for me playing a role in lots of routine plays at shortstop and some not so routine. It's been with me as I roved the outfield too. Hank made an unassisted double play at second base with it once. Snatching a hard line drive on its way to the outfield, he then tagged a runner who had wandered off the bag. He was about eight. Charlie made a miraculous catch over his shoulder a few years ago between right and centerfield at the fence in a playoff game. I still don't know how he got there or once there, how he picked the baseball out of the air. As a single moment in time, it's one of my fondest and all-time favorite memories.
The glove has also been a part of some heart-breaking experiences. There have been plenty of woeful errors. Some spectacularly bone-headed plays. It's been witness to plenty of losses including some particularly brutal extra-inning defeats. The game is designed to break your heart after all. And it does. The glove has also been brought along to dozens of major league games all over the country and has snagged some foul balls in the stands at a few of them. The glove has actually been lost several times too, once or twice for days at a time. Lost, then found. Amazing grace. It's always been able to somehow find its way back home.
It smells good. Smoky old leather and Glovolium. It's both supple and brittle. Rough and smooth. Ideal in terms of heft and form. It's torn up and beat up, yet it remains somehow perfect to me. I like the way it feels. It fits just right. It suits me. It's held up and still makes a devastatingly beautiful sound when I slam my fist into it. It's real and magic too. It's a nostalgic artifact of memory, yet it is a thing of present utility, same as it ever was. If my house was on fire, after everyone got out, it's what I?d go back for. It's representative of both my soul and body. Most of all, it works - it's the definition of sublime durability.
It has been a long year. But we?re still here. Still in the game. We?re a staunch and rambunctious bunch. And this past week, I've been reminded of how durable we all are. Wins, losses, we press on either way. This country and its people have been witness to moments of the miraculous and the heart-breaking both recently and historically. We?re supple and brittle. Rough and smooth. There have been plenty of terrible errors. Plenty of awful losses. Some spectacularly bone-headed plays. The country has gotten lost at times, yet it always seems to somehow find its way back home. It's torn up, beat up, yet it remains remarkable. Devastatingly beautiful. Like its people, a thing of sublime durability.
God ? I am grateful for Your astonishing blessings on this nation, for its diverse inhabitants, its resilient aspirations, and lofty ideals. May we press on together with these in hand, generation after generation. God, shed Your grace on thee. And help me through it all, to remain of utility to You, graceful, real, and durable.