Thursday, May 27, 2010

Opening pitch

While the movies proclaim there’s no crying in baseball, there might be a few tears at Victory Field next Thursday night. The crowds will gather for a celebrity softball game to remember and celebrate a little girl whose life ended much too soon. 
Caroline Symmes was just 5 years old when she died last December from a Wilms’ Tumor. In her brief life, she captured the hearts of many, including those who cared for her at Riley Hospital for Children and the Indiana Children’s Wish Fund. Caroline was precious to me because she was the first baby I ever had the privilege of baptizing.
My heart has broken for those closest to Caroline as they’ve wandered the devastating chasm of grief.  Although I believe God will comfort all who mourn and give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit, those promises seem empty in the wake of a tragic loss like the death of a child. 
Yet I’ve seen ripples of grace spread from a tragedy like this one. Family and friends have created networks of support. Faith communities have connected in new ways. Funds are being raised to benefit organizations like the Indiana Children’s Wish Fund, which creates memories and builds hope for other families with children who are ill. 
And perhaps those same ripples of grace will flow from the baseball diamond next week, as God gives Cracker Jacks instead of ashes, the oil for a softball glove instead of mourning, the mantle of celebration instead of exhaustion, all from the opening pitch. 
The Caroline Symmes Memorial Softball Challenge begins at 5 p.m. next Thursday, June 3 at Victory Field in Indianapolis. Tickets are $5, available at Ticketmaster. All proceeds benefit the Indiana Children’s Wish Fund