Mirth and Laughter

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Heroes

Not another post about basketball! *groan* (It isn't, really).

Well, sure, our team, Gonzaga, is ranked #5 nationally (#1 in the WCC). Adam Morrison might be voted college player of the year, and the team has a shot at winning the whole shebang.

But it's the "The Smiling Center" J.P. Batista, who's captured our hearts today. He really does smile a lot--in a way that makes you think he's genuinely at peace and happy from within.

Before you read on, this is not a preachy post--it's about heroes. As far as I'm concerned, it's how a person lives their life that makes them worthy, not their religious beliefs--or lack there of. Anyway . . .

Before leaving for church yesterday, my daughter informed me that she doesn't want to go because some of her friends mocked Catholics, saying they aren't Christians (how, er, Christian of them). After I got done chortling, I explained that Catholics were the original Christian religion--in fact, they kept the church going and growing for over a millenium before Luther was even born.

Note: In case anyone's curious, the definition of a Christian is "one who professes to believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ." Although there are some differences in approach, doctrine, etc. Catholics ARE Christians too. (If I sound annoyed, it's because this has come up more than once recently).

My daughter still looked unsure, so I told her in a serious tone, "Hey, some of my best friends are Protestants." :) She's familiar with my humor--and me--so she knows I'm joking. I try not pigeonhole or judge others. I told her it's a decision she'll make for herself when she's older. But for now, "Just be a kind person" and "We'll just go RC today since I'm familiar with when to kneel and cross myself--okay?" See child fear eternal damnation and try not to laugh.

How does this all connect to basketball? After communion, daughter asked if we can go--it was a long mass because there were baptisms (always make me cry). So we skipped out as the final song was sung and crossed paths with J.P. Batista on the sidewalk. Perhaps he ducked out of the service early to avoid the adoring basketball fans, of which there are many here.

He smiled that big lovely smile, and after exchanging "Hi"s, I (smiling too and acting like an A-One dork) said, "It's a beautiful day." J.P. agreed. It was great to see daughter's eyes turn the size of dinner-plates (she's plays bball herself and is a huge fan of J.P.'s--as am I). She beamed all the way home.

Folks who know him well (more than one nerdy exchange) say that he's a genuinely great guy. And he's an excellant role model for the kids--as evidenced when daughter informed me that she can't wait to go back to church. :)

A sports hero trumped peers. (yes, it could've been the church service that lured her back, but let's face it--she's 10). I hope she continues to look to positive role models when she hits her teen years and her friends ask her to jump off a cliff or something. Sadly, I avoided sports in HS--and yes, jumped off a cliff or two. If only I'd had a hero like J.P. to look up to. Thanks guy. :)

7 Comments:

  • At 11:17 AM, Blogger Kristen said…

    "But it's the "The Smiling Center" J.P. Batista, who's captured our hearts today. He really does smile a lot--in a way that makes you think he's genuinely at peace and happy from within." What a nice thought, E. And it's nice to know a bit about him. Loved seeing him on the court.


    "Before leaving for church yesterday, my daughter informed me that she doesn't want to go because some of her friends mocked Catholics, saying they aren't Christians." How sad. And it angers me. Does the Bible say mock another for their choices? What happened to love thy neighbor as thyself?

    How cool you got to talk to a great guy about the previously fine weather we had.

    Acceptance, such an easy word yet so hard for many to do.

    Lovely how you handled it, E. Brava!

     
  • At 11:58 AM, Blogger Ellen said…

    Thanks K! You're so sweet (and lucky, BTW, because you get to see real live games once in awhile). LOL.

    Yes--the previously beautiful day has turned into major snow today (which is beautiful in its own way too).

     
  • At 1:45 PM, Blogger Winter said…

    You know, I have some very Christian friends who are Catholics. And you know me!

    All too often people judge you by the church you go to, and that is not what our faith is about. It does drive me nuts when people think just cause you don't go to their church you're damned to hell. Hello! I'm a Baptist married to a Luthern and I don't believe for one bit hubby's damned to hell just because he's different.

    I'm glad to hear that a college player is holding to his roots, and it's great that your girl got to see it in person. Now that is a mark of a true Christian.

     
  • At 2:30 PM, Blogger Honey said…

    Oh, E, how refreshing to see someone who walks the walk in addition to talking the talk!! I'm so glad you were able to exchange helloes with your Smiling Center. :) I know it just made your day!! :)

     
  • At 2:58 PM, Blogger Ellen said…

    Yep--made our day! :) And you're right, he definitely walks the walk. He's respectful, generous, and hard-working (aside from the fact that he goes to church everyday--according to the announcers).

    I agree with all of you. Acceptance of each other's beliefs is the way to go--in fact, the kindest person I ever met was a Buddhist.

    Yikes--I try to avoid religion or politics! Next up: Why the next presidential election must . . . (just kidding). LOL! :)

     
  • At 5:15 PM, Blogger Honey said…

    Oh, forgot to mention - I don't think saying Hi and mentioning it's a beautiful day is a dorky thing at all. :) It's perfectly natural. And I'm sure he was happy that you were willing to talk to him instead of being too intimidated. Can you imagine how you'd feel if people were afraid to talk to you because they didn't want to look like dorks? Seriously, you probably made his day. :)

     
  • At 7:36 PM, Blogger Ellen said…

    Awww...thanks. I'd just resigned myself to being a big dork. It's happened before, you know. :)

     

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