The father and son walked a bit ahead of me as we exited Camden Yards on the second night in August. At first I didn’t realize they were together, because the father was white and the son was black. But then I saw their hands.
They were holding hands. To stay together in the crowd.
This wouldn’t have been notable, except that the son was about 13. I know because I have a son that age who is also nearly as tall as me.
As I got closer, I expected to hear a conversation I’d hear in my own house, but it wasn’t like that at all.
This boy was slurring his speech, and when he turned his head, I could see that it took effort for him to form words. But he was joyful in his attempts. And he was saying hello to every person who passed him.
A few returned his greeting.
Most glanced in his direction and then moved away.
Then one man struck up a brief conversation with him, asking him if he’d enjoyed the game.
My heart gave thanks for this generous soul, because the moment he engaged the boy, both he and his father turned toward the man and gave huge welcoming smiles.
The boy named a couple things he’d liked – the four home runs, cotton candy – and then something he didn’t. And the banter that ensued was typical Northeast stuff – a repartee of “no-way-c’mon-yeah right-don’t gimme that.” And for a bright moment, the boy was not “special needs.” He was just a kid at the ballpark with his dad.
Valuing a person means recognizing the sacred within – the holy that comes from beyond the boundaries of time, space, body, gender, race, or ability. Thank God for those who know true beauty when they see it.