Photo: Nick Daverin

A Picture from a Game, or Metaphor in a Photo Frame

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By Dan Valenti (Jul 2, 2010)
Determination has legs. Persistence wears sneakers. Effort's arms pump like pistons in a T-shirt called LOVE, churning the air with invisible whirlpools.

This photo depicts Allen Alexander, Marian novice, chugging from second to third base in the recent Marians vs. Marian Helpers Center Employees All Star Game, played on the softball field behind Monument Mountain High School in nearby Great Barrington, Mass. Many Divine Mercy devotees will recognize the name Monument Mountain for being the site these past two years of a Marian conference presented on the Saturday of Divine Mercy Weekend.

Giving All He's Got
For the record, the Marian softballers, who were with the services of many talented young guys — including novices Gabriel Cillo, Bart Lapus, and Brent Thayer — defeated the MHC employees, 29-5.

It wasn't as close as the score indicates. Think the Indians vs. Custer. Think Mexicans vs. Texans at the Alamo. Think Alexander the Great (no relation to Allen) vs. Anybody.

The Marians got a huge lift from Deacon Michael Gaitley, MIC, he of the powerful bat and decent glove. Mercifully, they couldn't play Br. Richard Mary Dolan, MIC, who had left on assignment a few days before. Rich is a former college baseball star and can lose a baseball or softball with a Hillerich and Bradsby bat as well as Ted Williams. Had Rich been playing, the score would have been 39-5.

What sticks out for this writer is the photographic record, pictures taken by computer programmer Nick Daverin. One of Nick's pictures told not just the story of a play in the game but also the story of religious life.

It doesn't seem possible, but look again at the photo of Allen Anderson's full-court press into third base. He is giving 100 percent, all he's got. He's leaving everything he has on that field.

Running on Air
When Br. James Cervantes, MIC, professed his final vows as a Marian, Provincial Superior the Very Rev. Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC, encouraged James in his profession. He also warned him that the religious life contains many challenges and difficulties. One can only walk in that life with resolve, purposefulness, and faith.

These are the qualities Allen Anderson shows on his face as he lumbers into third. The others in the picture provide a near-ballet of accentuation: to the left, "Big Joe" Hughes from maintenance looks to tag second base for a force play. Graphic designer Catherine LeVesque moves toward second. In the foreground, Colin from maintenance covers third.

At right, a fellow Marian puts up the "stand" sign for Allen. He doesn't have to slide, he's telling him in hand signals. He's got the base standing.

What's It Like to Run on Air?
Nick Daverin's camera has captured Allen in mid-stride, literally running on air. Allen's right arm crosses to his left shoulder as his right arm pumps back, pistons thrusting his body forward. His Kelly green T-shirt advertises the hidden sentiment "LOVE." It complements the green forestry of the lush background.

Allen's face crinkles into the utter seriousness of striving. He is heading to third, one stop removed from going where we all want to go: home.

We all want, and need, to go home — the place where they love you, no matter what.

"Nothing and no one," Allen's expression says, "will prevent me from my goal. Neither hell, high water, nor the dust of the earth will stand in my way." He runs the shortest distance between two bases: the straight line.

Allen safely made third, for those keeping score at home. He also touched home plate shortly thereafter for another Marian run.

Persistence, determination, faith, love, and traversing via the straight line: these are the qualities that lead to fulfillment in a vocation.

Allen Anderson ran the good race, which for him has only just begun.

Dan Valenti writes for numerous publications of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, both in print and online. He is the author of Dan Valenti's Mercy Journal.

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