Although I was only seven I knew clearly the motives of all those kids
that stood directly opposite to where my line was.
Yes, we all knew the rules of Red Rover Red Rover. Somehow the thrill of the game
and the simplicity of the rules appealed. We knew we could win
if we all worked together.
“Don’t forget” our gym teacher (yes, that’s what we called them then)
“never let go of the person’s hands you are holding.
Don’t let go!”
So with the strength of determination that grade school kids can have
We all called with feigned boldness
“Red Rover Red Rover
send _____ over.”
I always hoped it wasn’t me.
And it usually wasn’t. Everyone knew that I couldn’t break through those tightly locked hands.
No, my challenge was to keep holding the hands of my friends beside me.
Some kids had a power to break through the tightest held grips
and if they did they could take someone back over to their side.
But if they didn’t they joined our side.
The fun began.
But what I realize today is that it was more than a game.
That rule was important for life.
Don’t let go!
The shining moment I remember well was watching this ‘bigger than life’ boy
twice my size
coming right at me with cannon like force.
I squeezed the hands of my friend
and also squeezed my eyes tightly shut. I knew that it would be a bad hit.
The ground thundered with the sound of his feet running
Closer and closer
Stomach in throat
Heart stopping moment.
Until he hit.
BUT WE HELD!
My eyes popped open to see my friend jumping up and down excitedly
hugging each other moment.
We overcame together by holding hands.
Oh if only the wisdom of that old game would speak to people today.
In the world of technology where the efficiency of computers reigns
and people become relegated to statistics
we oftentimes forget the spirit of a person.
The one who smile
and cries from the depth of sorrow,
that dares to ignore the odds and survive.
This is the face of a one who is both family member, friend and giver of compassion.
This is the one to whom we must never let go, as the game says.
Yes, the hits in life can be harder than hard.
But we must hold tightly to the one on our right and our left.
The force might even break us apart for a season
but we must grab hold again.
Our strength is in togetherness.
Let’s never forget it.
Yes, I’ll be thinking some more about that old game we played
behind my old brick elementary school in Saugerties, New York.
I’ll write more about it tomorrow
But until then
ask yourself this simply question
“Did someone drop my hand?”
Or better yet
“Whose hand did I drop?”
Maybe it’s not too late to grab hold again.