Good health . . . something we think about occasionally, and are most definitely grateful for when we are sick and stuck in bed, or when a friend or loved one loses their health due to a long term illness or suffers from injuries related to a serious accident. On Saturday I was reminded of not only how blessed I am for a healthy body and mind, but how the rest of our family enjoys those same blessings. Really, when you think about exactly how many things can possibly go wrong from conception to making it to almost 40, it's quite remarkable. So, after dropping Caroline off at tennis, then quickly driving over for Ryan's hockey game where I can get some mileage on the treadmill while I watch (at the SL sports complex you can cheer for the hockey team while working out - BRILLIANT!), I began thinking about our active family and thought I would share a humbling experience I had years ago that taught me a beautiful lesson on gratitude.
Ryan was just about 3 or 4 years old and beginning his first adventures in athletics . . . soccer. He was the smallest kid on the team and by far the slowest. He was darling, but really hadn't figured out how to use those little legs to his full advantage, so the coach decided to let him play goalie so he wouldn't get so discouraged when he couldn't keep up with the other kids. OK, this is my first son . . . my future baseball star . . . and he is showing absolutely no aptitude for sports! I have to admit that I became discouraged myself and started to compare him to the other kids on the field and wondering if my son would ever play as great as my friends' little boys, would he ever be the star who scores the goals or is he going to be that poor kid no one wants on their team?
One evening during that soccer season I had an experience I will never forget. I was watching the news while folding laundry and a one of those "special interest" stories began. It was about a father whose son's physical handicaps prevented him from participating much in daily life, let alone any sports, and how this little boy desperately longed to be with the other kids. So, his father put him on a soccer team and would go out during the games and push him up and down the field in his wheelchair just so he could feel the wind on his face and see the other children run beside him - truly feel part of the game. I felt a complete sense of ingratitude while watching this touching story unfold and I will never forget the lesson in humility I learned that evening. I immediately changed my thinking and looked at Ryan, and now all of my children as the wonders they are, at the healthy, beautiful bodies they were given that can take on every active pursuit they desire.
At that very moment I told myself I will never compare what my children can or can't do with other children. There will always be someone who is faster, stronger, or more athletic than them, and because they CAN move and their bodies work, they are able to enjoy life and all it offers - for that I am profoundly grateful. Occasionally when I watch my daughter play a tennis match or Ryan during a mean lacrosse game (his speed has increased dramatically since he was four :-), instead of focusing on their progress or the score, I think of that little boy in his wheelchair and am reminded of the miracle of my children and our health.