Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Baseball as a Spiritual Practice

Sports, like religion, offer these consolations: A diversion from the routine of daily living; a model of coherence and clarity; a heroic example to admire and emulate, and a sense of drama and conflict in which nobody dies. 

In baseball we begin and end at home.  Home plate is not fourth base. Our goal in this game is to get home and be safe. Home is a concept rather than a place. Home implies safety, accessibility, freedom, comfort. It’s where we learn to be both part of and separate.  The object in baseball is to go home, and to be safe.  

When a runner charges home we lean forward to see the home plate umpire slash his arms downward signaling that the runner who may have crashed onto the ground in, in fact, safe. Isn’t that what we all want? I do. In my daily life I want whatever is bigger than me and whoever is judging me to see how fast I run and how precariously I slide and then to say, as I slip and slide, “She’s safe!” 

Those who believe, whose faith is strong, accept the umpire/God at his gesture and stand up relieved. Some, like me, despite wanting it are afraid to believe or struggle to trust. I have --over and over-- sensed the “safe” signal, but I am unbelieving. I run the bases again, skidding and scuffing. Again he signals, “Safe!”, but again I go to bat. What baseball offers that life does not is the agreement that we will believe it when we are told that we are home and that we are safe.

No comments: