“Run, Tully, run!” the woman on the bleachers yelled.
No, it wasn’t me hollering—she had a Kentucky accent and I was at the fence taking pictures. But somebody in the stands wanted her to score a run as much as the coach did. My five-year-old granddaughter picked up her petite little legs and ran for home like her life depended on it.
“Safe!” the umpire yelled, crossing his arms in a fluid “x” at the same time Tully jumped up and landed, planting both feet on the white triangular base. It was like he was pronouncing a blessing on our little Dodger, ecclesiastically.
She made it home and now she was safe. I wonder if that’s why they call it “home” – because you’re supposed to feel safe there. You get to be who you are even if you’re covered in dirt and your ponytail is messed up. After all, everyone else on the team looks about as put together as you do. That’s part of being a team.
But some homes don’t run according to teamwork. Heck, they can’t even spell ‘teamwork.’ It’s like everyone is trying to cover their bases all by themselves and spend most of their time playing defense against their own team members. That’s a pretty good way to lose the game. And the team.
Don’t we all wish there was a safe place where we can be ourselves, even if our socks are smelly and our hands are dirty? And if there isn’t a safe place, at least we’d like to find a safe person to pour our hearts out to. Somebody who knows how to listen without judging and especially without breaking our confidence.
Those are rare people. Of all the people I cross paths with every week, or every month, there are about four or five who I feel ‘safe’ with. And when I describe someone as ‘safe,’ I mean I trust them enough to be myself with them. They make me feel accepted and won’t sacrifice me to the other team to make themselves look good.
Wisdom reminds me to watch what I say and who I say it to. I have to protect myself in case I let something slip in the presence of someone who’s not safe. Maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe no one ever cheered for them while they tried to make it home. Maybe home never was a safe place for them. Maybe they believe that honesty is the best policy even if it wounds one of their own team members and takes them out of the game.
Tully made it home because the coaches and her teammates had her back. If they’d booed her from the bleachers or chewed her out while she was up to bat, she’d have never even made it to first base. But they all did their best to support her while she did her best. That’s teamwork. That’s safety.
When you're running like your life depends on it, you need a safe place to land.