Imagine a world where we valued kindness and love more than winning. For me daring to be kind is sometimes the real bravery.
So I'm reading a book called The Strong Sensitive Boy, by Ted Zeff and it had a story that touched me so deeply that I had to ring my friend straight away at 11pm and read it to him over the phone, because... just because in a world where winning is seen as everything, this story shows how beautiful and brave it is when love wins.
The story is about a boy called Shaya who was at a school called Shush in Brooklyn New York that catered for learning disabled children. The story was shared by his father at a fundraising dinner and then put in a book called Echoes of the Maggid by Rabbi Paysach Krohn, then it was made famous by a man called Wayne Dyer who is referenced in the book that I read.
"One afternoon Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked his father, "Do you think they will let me play?" Shaya's father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys wouldn't even want him on their team. But Shaya's father understood that if his son was chosen to play it would give him a sense of belonging. Shaya's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shaya could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, "Well, we're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning."
Shaya's father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play in center field. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya's team scored a few runs but were still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya's team scored again and now with two outs and the bases loaded, with the potential winning run on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shaya was given the bat. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn't even know how to hold a bat, let alone hit with it. However, as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved in a few steps so he could lob the ball in softly so that Shaya might at least be able to make some contact with the ball. The first pitch came in. Shaya swung clumsily and missed. Then out of the dugout, one of Shaya's teammates came up and together they held the bat and faced the opposing pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher then took a few more steps closer to Shaya and they swung at the ball as they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. But instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond the reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, "Shaya, Shaya, run to first! Run to first!" Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running.
But the right-fielder understood what the pitcher's intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head. Everyone yelled, "Run to second, Shaya! Run to second!" Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop now ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, "Run to third Shaya, run to third!" As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, "Shaya, Shaya, run home, run home!" Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a grand slam and won the game for his team."
"That day," said the father who now had tears rolling down his face, "those 18 boys reached their level of perfection. They showed that it is not only those who are talented that should be recognized, but also those who have less talent. They too are human beings, they too have feelings and emotions, they too are people, they too want to feel important."
I would love to hear what you thought of the story.
Sending love as always,
Ruth Nadia x
The photo is of my awesome brother who really does value kindness and love in a way that nurtures my two nephews so much. Big up the bravery of those who dare to be kind.