Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 6, 2009

Play Ball!

Only a couple of days ago I stood at the kitchen sink in the old mansion that has become the Rectory washing a couple of potatoes for the evening supper. Outside in the school parking lot in the late afternoon sun three boys were beginning a game of whiffle ball. Big fellows they were, high schoolers. One pitched, one hit and one shagged fly balls. Quite a few of the balls were powered up onto the hill by the garage, or onto the bottom of the driveway between the garage and the rectory. Some of them landed in the “rough”, the hill itself now becoming lush with new grass and several clumps of day lilies I’d planted there some years ago, and the one or two bushes I’d set there also, now coming into some resemblance of bushness.

Kids being kids, and games being what they are, on those occasions nothing stood in the way of fielding the ball, not grass assuredly and, I saw with some dismay, not several unlucky day lily plants. It caused me to think back on my own crashings through flower beds, and my children’s, in years past. I smiled once or twice between my wincings, as I watched all three of the young bulls make war on the poor plants during their game.

At last I could not keep silent any longer. I must defend the innocence of the greening world from these barbarians. And, so, after I witnessed one of the brutes crush an defenseless Iris I took action and walked outside. “Yo,” I called, and pointed at him, so there would be no mistake. I used to be a Federal Agent, and I almost said, “Don’t move.” I didn’t need to, though. The tome of my “Yo!” was enough. He stopped and looked at me, a mixture of worry and wonder crossing his face. I guessed he was wondering why I was there and calling so imperiously to him. I asked him if he knew he and his friends had been about crushing little flowers as they charged around on the hill. Of course he hadn’t was the answer. Innocence radiated from him, purity of intention mixed with immediate contrition.

Mercy overwhelmed me, and I merely asked him and his friends to have a care. Patting him on the shoulder, lightly, I sent him on his way.

I left and returned to the potatoes, now ready for peeling. Glancing down toward to drive I saw two of them looking up at me, one smiling, slightly impudently I thought. He was probably thinking how silly was that old man to be so concerned about flowers. He did not know now, I continued to think, but someday he will find out.

What a grace…


  1. At first, I thought to myself “Peter will let them slide; he remembers”. But then Peter went out to protect the flowers?

    So was the grace that one can remember the good things in youth? Or is the grace that you got to enjoy both youth and the planting of live plants and bushes later in life? Now you can enjoy watching high school guys play ball, and all the good memories. Yet you can also enjoy things that youth doesn’t usually possess the wisdom with which to experience fulfillment.

    Ah, what the hell! Who can figure out what’s goin on inside Peter’s head.

  2. Not even he can figure that out.

  3. You really are amazing Poppa!


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