Out of a Dark Place Through God's Grace

Everyone knows that Hurricane Sandy is still having catastrophic effects on the lives of many in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area—but Hurricane Katrina? Yep, Hurricane Katrina. The storm that pulverized the Gulf area back in 2005 was nothing less than a disaster for many people, including Barry Lyons, a one-time New York Met. With the help of organized baseball he’s managing to recover from all the sadness it caused, but it brought a lot of heartache along the way. There’s quite a story that goes with it, and sports writer Anthony McCarron told it in the pages of New York’s Daily News. It goes something like this:  Barry Lyons was not quite a household name with the Mets, but true fans will recall him as a backup catcher for the unforgettable Gary Carter in the late ’80s. Lyons nonetheless made his own mark, though, especially as a battery-mate for pitcher David Cone, his roommate and still his friend. He called it a career after 253 big-league games, 212 of them with the Mets, and ultimately settled with his family in Biloxi, Miss., near his aging parents. When Hurricane Katrina barreled in on the Gulf Coast, Lyons decided to ride it out in his ranch-style home. That proved to be a bad mistake. With water rapidly rising inside the house, the family went to a neighbor’s home, and when that too proved untenable, they ultimately found safety in a boat tethered to a trailer. And when the waters finally receded, they assessed the damage. Complete devastation surrounded Lyons. His home was wrecked beyond repair, and after a time a FEMA trailer served as their house. But the ordeal proved too much for the family. His brother who lived nearby killed himself, and Lyons himself started drinking. Heavily. His marriage was in a shambles. David Cone, who never abandoned his buddy, could hardly believe it. “It looked to me like he got sicker and sicker,” he said. Finally, when Lyons hit bottom, he recommended rehab. And Cone mentioned something else: the BAT, the Baseball Assistance Team. Both would play major roles in giving Lyons a new life. Something else was all-important. The rehab institution Lyons chose was the Home of Grace, a Christian center, and in McCarron’s words it’s where Lyons “broke the vise grip of booze, marijuana and painkillers.” Lyons himself reflected on the long-term aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina. “For a long time,” he said, “I was in a very dark place and it affected me horribly for about five years. By God’s grace I have come out of that and now there are some amazing things going on in my life.” One of them is talking about the ordeal he went through, and how finally it came to a halt. “By God’s grace,” the man said, and he meant it. Baseball is coming back to him as well; he’ll be the hitting coach for Biloxi High School and it looks as if the town will get a Double-A minor league team in which he’ll play some kind of role. And there are his friendships, plus the BAT—an association he freely acknowledges. If Barry Lyons sounds like a happy man, he is. Just ask him—and he’ll tell you all about it. For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, GETTING THROUGH GRIEF WITH GOD, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004

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