For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
In Detroit, you knew it was spring, not by the temperatures outside, but by the voice of Ernie on the air. Each and every Detroit Tigers Baseball session started off with the Voice of the Turtle, a short verse from the book of Solomon, yet, most of us hearing the words had no idea they were from the bible. I know that when I was growing up hearing Ernie’s words, I thought it was just a pome he wrote for the start of spring, I had no idea that he was evangelizing me, I had no idea I was hearing the inspired word of God.
Isn’t that just how life is, we hear something, it sounds cute, it sounds good, yet we fail to hear the voice of God with in it. But yet, like Ernie’s rendition of the Voice of the Turtle, it resonates with you, it seems to fill a spot within your heart. I know that’s how it was with Ernie, and that’s how it still is, even today when I hear his voice, I hear his reading of the Voice of the Turtle, I feel spring has arrived, all is right with the world. It’s amazing how certain things effect us.
God is that way, when you allow Him to be. He will resonate within you, make all things right, if you allow Him too. But like hearing the voice of summer, you have to tune in, to hear Ernie call a baseball game was like being in the park, feeling the sunshine and smelling the hotdogs. He made you fell as if you were apart of the action, one of the fans right behind home plate.
I remember many a Saturday afternoons listening to Ernie call a game, his voice was baseball, and you truly did feel safe and secure with his voice on the radio. Several years ago Ernie passed away, and it was like all of Michigan lost a grandfather, and we all knew Detroit Baseball would never be the same. Something was lost, the voice of summer had died. Sure, he had not been calling games for a few years before he passed on, but he was still there, you would hear him on the radio every now and than and you knew he was watching his beloved Tigers, just as you were. It just seemed different after his passing, nothing was the same, summer had lost its voice and silence now rained. Dramatic sounding I know, but some people just have the effect on you, some moments or memories are just that strong, and Ernie is one such memory. And not just for me, but for millions of fans.
Last year I had the opportunity to see a play in downtown Detroit called “Ernie!”, yep a play about the voice of summer. It was written by our own Mitch Album, a local sports writer and radio personality, and know nationally for his best selling book “Tuesdays with Morrie”. The one act play was a sell out each and every night and is returning this year for another go around. An amazing thing, if you stop and think about it, Ernie was just a sports broadcaster, a baseball guy. He didn’t invent the cure for cancer, he died from it. he didn’t bring world peace to the world, he brought baseball to the homes. He was, by every account, just a man who loved baseball, his wife Lulu and his kids. He was just Ernie. But he was beloved by all and holds a special place in the hearts of all Detroiters, for Ernie was, and still is to many, the voice of summer. Ernie knew his gifts and used them everyday, in small ways, to make God know and visible in this world. Be it by reading a small poem on the air waves, or by making us all feel as if we are welcomed into his world of baseball. It was his gifts that he chose to share with the world, and we are all better of for it. Ernie was truly one of a kind, he truly was a gift from God.
Lent offers us an opportunity to look into ourselves, to evaluate our gifts and to determine the best way to share them with others. God gave Ernie the gift of Baseball, the gift to make you feel welcomed and the gift of the love of life, what gift do you have, and how are you using it. Find ways this Lent to use your gifts, to share them with others, to make God known a little better in this world.
God Bless & Happy Lent