I spent last weekend with my church's youth group at a Christian camp here in Michigan.
I love working with middle-schoolers, but they're a mess, and I don't just say that because the boys completely trashed the inside of our cabin within an hour. They have issues, only some of which they'll tell you about.
So I spend a lot of time each week talking about God's unconditional love for them, which is a pretty big concept for a 12-year-old.
I tried to illustate the point last weekend with one of my favorite songs: "More" by Matthew West. I have the refrain taped to my monitor at work so I can read it when I'm feeling down. It's written from God's point of view. It goes like this -- and trust me, you're better off reading it than hearing me sing it.
"I love you more than the sun
And the stars that I taught how to shine
You are mine and you shine for me, too
I love you yesterday and today
And tomorrow I'll say it again and again
I love you more."
I get emotional every time I sing the words "You shine for me, too." What a beautiful line. The notion that a flawed person like me -- and I have big flaws -- can shine for the Lord who is so powerful that he made the heavens is both humbling and joyous. When something lousy happens at work, I read that and think , "Well, at least I got that working for me."
I think the kids understood. It's kind of hard to tell, but they'll let me know in small ways when I least expect it.
And I think that since I receive unconditional love, I have to give it, too. Of course my kids get some, but that's easy. The Mets, however, are another story.
I don't know why I'm so drawn to the Amazin's. Goodness knows they've broken my heart. I was so angry on June 15, 1977 -- the day M. Donald Grant sent Tom Seaver packing -- that I jumped over to the Yankees camp. It lasted about a half-hour. I just couldn't do it.
My buddy Will teases me about my blind devotion. And he's right. I think they've got a chance to win every year -- especially this year. And I won't conceed they're out of the race each year until the day they are mathmatically eliminated. And even then, I'm not all the way sure it's over.
If I can forgive trading Seaver, then I can forgive stuff like Kenny "Bleeping" Rogers forgetting how to throw strikes to Andruw Jones in Game Six of the 1999 NLCS, or Armando Benitez serving up grand slams to Brian Jordan or giving up on Jason Isringhausen too early or not putting Roger Clemens on his butt after he skulled Mike Piazza.
I've almost forgiven them for messing with the home uniforms by adding that fat tail under the script Mets for a couple years in the 1990s, but I'm not quite there yet.
So when Opening Days declares winter dead and gone next week, I'll celebrate the arrival of Pedro and Beltran, a full year of David Wright and a healed Jose Reyes. Looks like a bright shiny year to me!