harelip prayers

July 6, 2008


I’ve cried my eyes out the past couple of days.  (My second mamma — Connie — left us to be with Jesus earlier this week.)  I had to dig out a couple of my favorite passages (some of which include the Scriptural Psalms).  One of which–found in David James Duncan’s The Brothers K–is a psalm of sorts in its own right.  (Okay, small p … but still.)  Because harelip prayers seem to be about all I can muster these days … (and because I love this story), here’s an excerpt:

“You know, Kade.  This whole thing, this shed business, it really is ridiculous.”  Then he smiled–and sadly, almost shyly added.  “But Vera says her stupid prayers no matter what.  Right?”

This remark washed over me in slow, silent waves: the shedding of the cigarettes, the tortured four-mile runs, the scavenged lumber and laborious building project–it was some kind of elaborate apology, some sort of self-imposed penance for having hit me.  It was a gesture, a wonderful gesture.  But a gesture nonetheless.  “Look, Kade,” he said, reaching down and squeezing my sagging shoulders.  “My situation, baseball-wise, is hopeless.”

My throat began to close.  I looked away to hide the welling in my eyes.

“The thing is,” he said, “I don’t want you getting worked up over nothing when I start spending time out here.  I built this shed because throwing baseballs keeps my head on straight.  I did not build it to inaugurate some sort of fairytale comeback.  Do you understand that?”

I stared at the little piece of diamond we’d just made.

“No matter how well I may eventually seem to be throwing, and no matter what your all-knowing brother Everett may say, all I’m ever gonna do out here is toss the pitcher’s equivalent of harelip prayers.  Okay?”

My tongue felt thick and dry now–not a hint of yak butter anywhere.

“Don’t think of it as baseball, Kade.  Call it my hobby, or some weird kind of worship maybe.  Call it psalmball, or shedball, or thumbball if you like.  But remember it’s not baseball.  It’s not a comeback.  You’ve got to promise me that.”

A lump of sandstone lay in my throat.  I couldn’t speak.  But he waited.  He waited till our eyes met, then bent my will like an arm wrestler bends a wrist: I had to nod to keep from breaking.  “Okay,” he said, handing me his hammer. “Let’s pound in that plate.”

We did so.  But I took no pleasure in it now.

David James Duncan, The Brothers K


5 Responses to “harelip prayers”

  1. aubin Says:

    Jeanette, again, I am just so so sad and sorry. I wish you & I were closer, maybe I’d know what to say? But I don’t so I’m just wanting you to know my heart is hurting for you & Haley and your loss. Am I dreaming that her death was close to your mom’s? For some reason I have summer in my head, but I might be wrong. Anyway, I love you friend. So so much.

  2. redthread Says:

    I love you…I’ll miss her two

  3. redthread Says:

    I mean I will miss her too.

  4. Kori Says:

    Love you sissy. Beautiful pictures you put up with Dear Connie. So hoping the Lord is giving you peace in the midst of such loss. I want to be here for you.

  5. jt Says:

    You’ve already been “here” … thank you. Just can’t wait for the big reunion …

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