How much can one person hold?

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A nun hits the ball during the Holy Childhood Association baseball encounter in Cuba in late May 2016. The camp was hosted by a team of professional baseball coaches and Catholic leaders from the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, which oversees the association. (CNS/Gregory L. Tracy, the Pilot)

Something my brother said to his youngest daughter got me thinking: "Don't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back."

A catcher's mitt, I mused. What a perfect analogy. Having played a lot of neighborhood last-strikes baseball as a kid growing up, I used an old ball glove that lived in the bottom of the broom closet which dad had when he was little. I saved up enough money to purchase my own inexpensive ball glove when I was about 10 or so, as I was in great demand to take the last strikes of the little kids who gathered in our side yard and desperately wanted to be picked for the team.

But a catcher's mitt is different than a ball glove. It's truly a mitt because there aren't finger separations. A catcher needs the pizza pie-shaped large, round mitt to be a good target with a deep pocket to make it easy to catch the ball. And the catcher's mitt is well-padded because pitches fly in at a fast and bone-breaking speed.

So someone with a catcher's mitt on each hand can do only one thing: take from other people. Take what's thrown. Take what comes along. And have a give-me philosophy. There's nothing else to do once something lands in a catcher's mitt except to hold on to it. And then what? How much can one person hold?

I liked my brother's advice. No, I loved his advice. It's better to give than to receive — but you need the right equipment.

[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati.]