As the star-netballer verbally reduced the newcomer to the conceptual size of an ant, most of the team stood silent, one or two joining in on occasion. Taunts of weak throws, missed goals and no understanding of the rules issued forth from the star-player.
The newcomer sank lower and lower in posture. She would never measure up; never belong or be valued by the other players. Though she excelled in biology, was a marvel at chemistry, and astounding with physics, she could see much joy and affection beneath the veneer of criticism in the players. She longed to be part of the fun of the game she enjoyed, and the fellowship of the team.
A tall, well-composed woman walked onto the netball court, toward the group of girls. The taunting and verbal abuse grew more and more quiet, until silent, at the approach of the woman: elegant, yet humble in appearance and manner. The browbeaten newcomer to the team remained in a subdued stance.
The woman entered the circle of girls and, taking the star and the newcomer by the hand, drew the two girls into the centre. All were silent.
The woman gently but firmly declared to the star-player all she knew of the this one’s desire to head into the field of medical research; of the expectation and push of the girl’s parents to excel in sport above all else; of her sense of insignificance within the course of her own life; and the bitterness welling up from within as a result.
The woman then softly and definitively declared the value and vital contribution the new-comer had to offer the team; her innermost desire and knowledge of interdependence, unity and teamwork; her experience, insight and understanding of healthy relationship.
In response each of the two centred girls expressed their envy, each of the other, and their desire for relationship, acceptance, mutual value and unity – to be a team.
Throughout the remaining seasons and school days this team became family. Wholly accepting of, and committed to each other. Not for the status of the team, but each one sought the best for each of the others. The result being that each one’s personal, relational and aspirational needs were met…and the team became the most admired in the district.
And who was the mysterious woman? As she walked from the group of girls on that day long ago, her name was sought. The most unassuming of the team members declared, “That…was Grace.”