Sunday, November 27, 2011

Yogi Berra was one of my childhood heroes. As a little "leaguer",  I played catcher. Not until later as an adult did I become aware of the wisdom of Yogi Berra’s aphorisms.  He once said “the future ain’t what it used to be.”  That quip has particular punch in this Advent season and in these dire economic times. I like the back and forth rhythm of gifts pitched to needs and needs to gifts.  My present heroes are those who catch the needs of those around them.  In life, catching needs is just as arduous as the crouched position of a big league catcher.  The catcher, I think, is the position which is most aware of the whole field of play.

In Robert Raines’ book, Living the Questions, he reported that in an informal worship service participants created luminaries, or sandbag candles.  Each was given a paper bag and marking pencil and asked to make a list of his/her needs on one side of the bag and list of his/her gifts on the other side.  The bags were then filled with sand and a candle, lighted, and placed in front of the participants in the congregational circle.  One participant reported that he had a struggle deciding which side of the bag to expose to others and which to face himself.  If he exposed his “needs” then he would have to sit there looking at his “gifts.”  If he exposed his “gifts” then he would have to sit there looking at his “needs.”  Was it harder to face his gifts with their responsibilities or his needs with their vulnerabilities?

The lesson of that child like exercise is that “we are all needy givers and gifted receivers.”   The paradox of the Advent season is that we live expectantly of both needs and gifts and they can’t be separated.  Another Yogi Berra aphorism –when you come to a fork in the road ( of gifts and needs) take it!! – catch the Spirit of both giving and receiving.

Barry Click is a licensed professional counselor and has practiced for thirty five years as a Pastoral Counselor and a Marriage and Family Therapist.  He is retired and mostly enjoys the back and forth rhythm of a needy giver and receiver in the congregational life of First Baptist Austin.  He is also presently participating as a volunteer in the Threads of Hope counseling ministry which provides counseling for people with limited resources.


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