Love and Prayer and Baseball

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It’s just a game. Sports are dumb. Baseball? Whatever.

This is what I kept telling myself as I watched the Cubs play in the 7th game of the World Series. It’s just a game, and there’s always next year and people are starving in the world around us.
This is what I kept saying in my head as I watched the Cubs play.

Truth be told, I turned off the game just before the 10th inning began. I could not bear it. I remember too well the disappointment, and I wanted to spare myself that.

And, of course, it’s just a game. Who even cares about these things? Sports? Pffft. Whatever.

But I do care. I really do, and I feel a little stupid about it because I try to center myself around prayer and liturgy and poetry and writing and making interesting conversation with people. I feel a little stupid that a baseball game made me ugly cry, but maybe not that stupid because I’m admitting it to you today.

I live in Chicago, but I’m not from Chicago. I grew up in Cincinnati in the era of the Big Red Machine. Thinking back and remembering my mom in our little living room, standing (not sitting) in front of the television, watching every move the players made, still brings me to a moment of real joy.

My mom knew about baseball (still does!) and told me what was happening, who was playing, what this hit meant, what that catch did. Baseball is like chess, exquisite and calculated. It is like dance, like a world class ballet company, muscles honed and hewn and stretched over bones, moving in full beauty and form.

I love baseball, and I love it because of my mom. She showed me this beauty. She showed me this passion and I’m realizing it now, in the wake of this long anticipated event, something to be said for a long wait like this. We take on every new season with the same bucket filled with hope here in Chicago. We watch as the team is crafted together year after year. We dole out the hope like water on parched earth, water that sinks into the clay or rests on top never reaching too far into the surface. We are in the desert. We set our expectations accordingly.

This year we saw the desert bloom after all that drought.

But it’s just a game, what’s the big deal? How is this even important in my day-to-day life, my spiritual life, my “real” life?

You know what? Moments like this (even for Cleveland fans) bring us together. We see our collective hope reflected in our fellow man. What a treat and joy to witness that. See that ecstasy on the fans faces, in their voices? It belongs to all of us after such a drought as this. It’s remarkable what joy is available to us as humans.

It’s this sort of event that I store up in me for the hard times. It sounds crazy, I know, to say that a baseball game can do this for me. I don’t care if it is crazy. Dismiss it, make fun, doesn’t matter. Because I’ll wager that you can look deep and find some collected and collective joy from a long awaited hope living inside of you someplace too. It might not be baseball or sports at all for that matter. It might not even be a widespread hope or long awaited hope like this one, but it’s there somewhere. I’m sure of it.

Dig deep, my people. Find it. And if it’s too elusive, come and share in mine. There’s enough to go around.

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