By Quin Hillyer at PJ Media;

For whatever reason, this week’s readings don’t resonate much with me – so instead of considering them directly, I ask you to indulge a little story instead.

Early in my first-grade year, while playing a football-related, pass-catching game invented by Charles “Chiggy” Rhodes, the young coach for the small Trinity Episcopal School in New Orleans, I somehow landed awkwardly and dislocated my hip. Apparently I was all bent into some gruesome position. Coach Rhodes lifted me up, carried me across the street that separated the field from the rest of the school, and into the school office where arrangements could be made to take me to the hospital.

I ended up in a body cast for several weeks, all the way up to my chest – and then was wheelchair-bound for a few more weeks, gradually building up to using crutches and then, finally, walking again on my own.

But as soon as I did return to school in my wheelchair, every single day when it was time for Physical-Ed period, Coach Rhodes would come to my first grade classroom and personally wheel me out to the field so I could at least watch as he taught the rest of the kids the then-new game called soccer. The first day he did so, when he deposited me on the sideline he announced to everybody else that he wanted them to introduce them to a “new kid” (me) and make me feel at home….

[Later in the column]….

So the years went on, all the way through almost the end of sixth grade, with Coach Rhodes helping me recover from other injuries (most notably a dislocated elbow in a sixth grade soccer game) and still laughingly calling me “New Kid,” especially when I did something well. Somehow, it made me feel special – and I wasn’t the only one. Coach Rhodes had a knack for finding something unique about each kid and, through repeated, smiling attention, make it a badge of honor.

On Saturday, May 15 of that year, 1976, our Trinity sixth grade team had an “away” baseball game against one of the best teams in the league. Coach Rhodes showed up wheezing and coughing and occasionally sneezing. We kids thought nothing of his apparent head cold. We didn’t know it was a somewhat more severe respiratory virus and that a doctor had told him to rest for the weekend – but he showed up anyway….

[The rest of this reflection, and where faith comes in, is here.]


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