ghosts of games past

It is an unlikely sight – surprising, surreal and incongruous, that is to say, out of place in this setting, which is an inner city public high school. I have worked in this high school almost every school day for the past three years, but I had never seen this before. That’s because I have never subbed in P.E. before today, but today I did and today we were not in the classroom. Instead, we were outside on the school football field. Now there is a uniformity to most high school football fields, which is to say they all look alike.

But that is not the case for the field on which I found myself in the still of the early morning with a class of high school students who were anything but still. (they were not supposed to be still, they were supposed to be walking the track and getting some exercise) The field and the track around it looked like any other high school stadium currently in use. It was the bleachers or stands where the spectators would sit that caught my attention and held it. So much so that I am still thinking about the out of place, decaying and yet strangely beautiful sight the bleachers presented.

It is at this point that I wish I was technically competent enough to take a picture of what I am describing to you and include said picture with this post. Sadly, I’m not, therefore I can’t. But they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So if I could show you a picture, there would be no need for me to write this post. But back to the bleachers. Now as far as I know, bleachers aren’t typically known for their beauty. I’ve never paid any attention to bleachers before, beyond their utilitarian use of providing me a seat from which I can watch whatever event it is that I have come to watch.

So you can imagine my surprise when the sight of these bleachers across the stadium from me kind of took my breath away – probably because I didn’t expect to encounter something extraordinary on this very ordinary day. Maybe it was because these bleachers seemed so out of place in this current day high school football stadium. I felt as though I’d stepped into the past or that I was visiting an historical site of ancient ruins in some European country. The contrast of the past displayed in this present day setting caught my attention, then kept me captive, inviting me to ponder the past and to imagine what went on here in this stadium long before today. I guess that’s what it means to be captivated.

Well, I was definitely captivated when I encountered the sight of these “ancient ruins” sitting in the midst of a modern day inner city public high school. I learned that this school was built in 1927 and the gym added in 1938. I haven’t found anything that tells me when the stadium was built, but I am guessing maybe when they built the gym, they built the stadium. That would make sense. If this is true, then these bleachers are eighty-four years old. That explains a lot.

They are white stone or concrete, solid, no spaces, rising up as bleachers do along one side of the football field. They are crumbling in places but what is most conspicuous is the greenery growing randomly in rows along the cement seats of some of the bleachers – like leafy green spectators waiting expectantly for a game to begin – this lush green growth, life springing up out of the long lifeless concrete, is so out of place that it caught me quite off guard. The scene is more reminiscent of a botanical garden than a sports arena, with green leaves springing up from, filling and spilling over many of the otherwise vacant seats in the stands – all this green growth giving the once functional bleachers the aura of an ancient ruin.

Part of the surprise is that no one planted anything here. No one plants seeds in cement, but in soil. Still, life has grown out of the crevices and cracks in the crumbling concrete of these bleachers. The bleachers no longer support people sitting on them. Now they are providing a place for a lot of random vegetation to take root, allowing various plants and weeds to decorate these formerly barren bleachers in multiple shades of green. (the color of life) The stands are once again filling up, this time not with people but with living, growing plants.

The unexpected beauty of these bleachers is a blessing to me today – a message and a reminder that beauty surrounds me no matter where my day takes me, even to an old, run down, inner city football field. But I will miss it if my eyes are not open to recognize something beautiful when it presents itself. New life coming right out of crumbling concrete. That’s a metaphor I don’t want to miss.

God does the same thing for me and for you. He brings new life to old bodies. Our earthly bodies are slowly deteriorating over time just like those old football bleachers. BUT GOD – (yes, it’s a BUT GOD post too) –

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

My Heavenly Father is continually bringing life out of my crumbling, decaying state. In fact, Paul writes in Romans 8:11 –

“And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.”

Today, these stony, leafy bleachers reminded me that God brings life out of even discarded, forgotten, stony hearts and that God –

“makes everything beautiful in its time.” – even old football bleachers, no longer in use (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

God can do the same for you and me, dear readers – He can make something beautiful of our lives when we allow Him in to do the miraculous work He longs to do in each of us –

sincerely, Grace Day

One thought on “ghosts of games past

  1. How i would love to see a picture of those cement bleachers overgrown with plants! I can see why it caught your eye! The end of your post made me think of a very old song I knew a long time ago called. ..He made something beautiful out of my life.😊💝

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