skip to Main Content

Permission to not keep score.

Have you ever heard of Buddy Ball? Beth Campbell started the program in 1994, in Bellevue, Washington. Because of his disabilities, Beth’s son Stevie, age 7, was unable to play in the regular t-ball program. So, Beth started a baseball league that mixes children with disabilities and able-bodied children.
Every player has a buddy.
Each team has 18 players.
If you can’t hit, a buddy hits for you.
If you can’t throw, a buddy throws for you.
If you can’t run, a buddy runs for you.
If you can’t catch, a buddy catches for you.
A child with cerebral palsy (confined to a wheelchair but allowed to hit for themselves) is pushed around the bases by a buddy.

You’ve got to go to a Buddy Ball game. Just to see the unmitigated joy on the face of a child, who may never be able to catch a fly ball, but who knows that he or she is playing baseball; is in the game.
Oh, by the way. I need to let you know one of the “rules.” In Buddy Ball it is against the rules to strike out. Once you get six strikes—six tries, six swings and misses—you get to go to first base. (You are rewarded for trying.  Some of you are thinking, “Well, I could have played with those rules!”)
But here’s the deal: Six strikes and you go to first base is about grace, and such grace unnerves people. At a conference for professionals, I told the Buddy Ball story. After my lecture, a therapist literally was “in my face,” letting me know where I went amiss, “Six strikes and you still get to go to first. How dare you teach that kind of freedom to children!” his face puffed and red. “Sir,” I said, “with all due respect, you could use more roughage in your diet.”

Here’s my favorite part of the story, and I’m quoting now (from memory) from an article in the Seattle Times, “When Beth’s son gets to first base he doesn’t stop there. But he doesn’t go to second either. He runs out into the crowd and hugs everybody.”
The reporter continued, “It is what sports can be, children running and jumping and playing because nobody’s keeping score because nobody cares.”
I’m still smiling. There are certain gifts that defy and counteract scorekeeping: compassion, empathy, camaraderie, reconciliation, inclusion and kindness.

I can’t improve on that. That is where this Sabbath Moment should end. But then, I’m a writer. Without an editor.

And speaking of keeping score. This past week I lost something. Well, I left a file of papers on an airplane. I didn’t notice until I was home. Writing projects including a good Sabbath Moment draft (I don’t remember the theme, just that it was going to be good). And a list of “must dos”.
So. It undid me for a wee bit.
And I did receive this from the airline, “Dear Terry, Unfortunately, we have not yet located your missing article. Please know that we are still diligently searching and will continue our quest to find the item matching your description. Sincerely, Lost Item Recovery Team” And then today, “Dear Terry, We have been searching for your lost item for seven days, unfortunately, to no avail.”

Of course, my confession would have to be that I don’t really remember what was on most of the papers, I just know they were essential (you know, the kind you can’t lose). Which made me smile big, thinking of the times I’ve opened kitchen drawers looking for something, only to stop and realize that I forgot why I was in the kitchen to begin with.
It is remarkable how trivial a thing can upset our equilibrium. And I’ll admit that a lot of it is about “keeping score”… about what is enough. Because we still wonder if we have enough. If this day, or these relationships, or encounters, or choices, are enough. Do I have enough “points” to make life meaningful?
(Of course, there is irony writing this during the Olympics, which makes scorekeeping mandatory, a little awkward. Except for the “Buddy Ball” stories about the athletes that are far bigger than the games.) 

Here’s why I love (and take to heart) the Buddy Ball story… “The real voyage of discovery,” Marcel Proust wrote, “consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Andre Dubus wrote stories about regular people, like bartenders, mechanics, waitresses and the like. In 1986, after publishing several books of short stories, Dubus stopped to help a woman and a man stranded on the side of the highway, and he was hit by a passing car. Dubus saved the woman’s life by throwing her out of the way, but he lost one of his legs and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
You know, how “disabilities” make you think this life isn’t enough.
He wrote, “Some of my characters now feel more grateful about simple things—breathing, buying groceries, sunlight—because I do.”
Amen. Grateful… for the enough of the permission to hug everybody, for sunshine after dark an cloudy days, for friends who listen and don’t keep score and for kind gestures and that make you glad to be alive.

Well, it’s that time of year for our geese. It’s been fun to watch. The young ones (male Canada geese are sent out of the clutch when they are a year old and live with a group of single young males), now three, are looking for their life mate (and she may likely be four; I like that). Let’s just say the courtship behaviors are elaborate and loud. Which makes sense, because they’re mating for life.
I give them their space. I did have a story to tell them, but it can wait.

Oh, here’s an idea for your week… tell one of your friends that you’re glad they’re on your buddy ball team.

Quote for your week…
Beyond living and dreaming there is something more important: waking up. Antonio Machado


Today’s Photo Credit: “A rescue dog from Jackson, Tennessee, Buddy adores a good Maine winter! We give thanks to God for the beauty of His creation and for the joy and wonder the animal kingdom gives us.” Becky and Doug Pride (Falmouth, Maine)… Thank you Becky and Doug… Keep sending your photos… send to
Yes, your gift makes a difference… Donation = Love…
Help make Sabbath Moment possible. I write SM because I want to live with a soft heart; to create a place for sanctuary, empathy, inclusion, compassion and kindness… a space where we are refueled to make a difference. SM remains free.
(NEW address by check: PO Box 65336, Port Ludlow, WA 98365)
March 18 – 20 Religious Education Congress, Anaheim, CA
NEW Audio SM… Enjoy — Grace meets us there
Join us every Wednesday… Audio Sabbath Moment

–Terry, Thanks for the link to the ‘Don’t Judge’ video.  This struck home with me during this time of polarization in our society and around the world. There are so many instances in a day that I judge someone off the cuff (e.g. the person in the post office without a mask, the car with the bumper sticker supporting something I disagree with). I am saving the link and am planning on watching it again every couple of weeks.  Thanks for Sabbath Moment.  It helps me start my day on a good note. Grace and Peace, Bill
(Thanks Bill… Here’s the video for those who missed it…)
–“This Is the Life” arrived yesterday, and I LOVE IT! It’s like having you and your heart and wisdom at arm’s length all the time. The Hafiz poem on p. 15 “Come dance with me, come dance” sings to me. Thank you sooooo much for writing this! I cannot say enough what a delight this book is for me. Carolyn
–Hi Terry, Thanks so much for sending the suggestion to watch 3 minute video, “Don’t Judge.”  Of all the things you have ever sent, this by far broke my heart. My husband and I just sat here in tears. Wish whole world could watch it.  God bless, Donna


Home is a place where you can catch a dream and ride it to the end of the line and back. Where you can watch shadow and light doing a tight little tango on a wooden floor or an intoxicated moon rising through an empty window. Home is a place to become yourself. It’s somewhere you can close a door and open your heart. –Theo Pelletier

There isn’t a right answer.
There just isn’t. The game show
where the bells ring and the points
go up and the confetti falls
because you got the answer
is a lie. The preacher who would assure you
of how to attain salvation
is making it all up. The doctor
who knows just how to fix
what ails you will be sure
of something else tomorrow.
Every choice will
cure someone, wound someone,
steal from the poor and
feed an abiding hunger.
Things will always happen
that you can’t foresee.
But you have to choose.
It’s all we have—that little rudder
that we employ in the midst
of all the eddies and rapids,
the current that pulls us
inexorably toward the sea.
The fact that you are swept along
by the river is no excuse.
Watch where you are going.
Lean in toward what you love.
When in doubt, tell the truth.
Lynn Ungar (1/28/14)

God bless to me the new day
never vouchsafed to me before
it is to bless thy own presence thou has
given triumph God
Bless thou to me
mine eye
may mine eye bless all it sees
I will bless my neighbour
may my neighbour bless me,
God give me a clean heart
let me not from sight of thine eye….
(trans A.Carmichael)
anam cara
John O’Donohue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This Post Has One Comment
  1. As a child I lost something (can’t remember what) but I was crushed. What I do remember are the words if my mother: ” someone will find it and be happy because that is just what they need at the moment.” I am not sure that made my ten year old self feel better, but 65 years later I remember my mother’s gift to me.

Back To Top