Monday, April 16, 2018

He Kept a Promise for 81 Years and Showed Up. Could You?

“Faithfulness is not doing something right once but doing something right over and over and over and over.”        --Joyce Meyer

Four point two years.

That's the average time an American worker holds a job, according to a January 2016 United States Bureau of Labor Statistics report. So if you or I are "average" in our work life, we'll switch jobs every fifty months or so. That translates into ten job changes in a lifetime. But not everyone is so typical or average when it comes to work.

Take Phil Coyne, an usher for the Pittsburgh Pirates major league baseball team.  Last week he retired from his job of helping people find their seats at the park, directing folks to the concessions, and greeting fans with a smile to ensure that their time at the game is memorable.  After ushering for more than 6,000 games, beginning in 1936, Coyne, at 99 years old, finally decided to give up his calling, his faithful calling, to serve the fans.

To show up.

How faithful was Coyne, how dedicated was he to that work? Except for four years when he served in World War II in Germany, Italy and France, Coyne showed up to every single Pirates home game for 81 years.  When he began ushering in 1936 as an eighteen year old rookie, the new Baseball Hall of Fame had just inducted the living legend Babe Ruth. Franklin Roosevelt was President. Radio was the hot media outlet.  Admission to a ballgame cost about a buck .

Beginning then, Coyne, for the next eight decades, or 54,000 innings, at three ballparks, witnessed hundreds of thousands pitches and foul balls; heard "RED HOT PEANUTS!" tens of thousands of cries; stood tall in the hot August sun and the cold April rain; and watched as the Bucs most often finished just okay in the standings but then finally won World Series in 1960, '71 and '79.

All by just showing up. Every time. Every game. Dependably. Faithfully.

Faithfulness is a human virtue our world doesn't much honor or celebrate anymore. Fidelity: the ideal that when we make a commitment or a promise to a person or a job or a cause or a faith or a country or a community, job one is to just show up. To do what we have been asked to do or hired to do; to do our duty, to meet our responsibility, and not just because of "what's in it for me", but also because faithfulness is the glue that binds all human relationships.  Faithfulness is the right thing to do. When we are faithful to someone, when another is faithful to us, life is just better, safer, stable, whole. 

Like when you went to a Pirates game, you just trusted that if you sat in section 26 or 27, Phil Coyne would always take very good care of you.  Always.

Consider: there are lots of folks in your world whose faithfulness makes your life a gift, in fact they make your one life possible.  Parents who stood by you. A spouse who loves you, for better and for worse. Friends who always show up for you.  A God and faith that has supported you through everything, all your life changes.  Even baseball is faithful, a game that still returns every single spring.

So thank you Phil Coyne. 

For showing up. For teaching us about the hope and the call to always, faithfully, show up.  Show up for the folks who need us. Show up for a country that right now needs citizenship and civic fidelity so desperately. Show up and in showing up, building a better world.  All one day, one job, one commitment squarely met, at a time.

For in the game of life, the winners always, ALWAYS, show up. See you at the park.



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