This article really is not about baseball. Well, it somewhat is. But not solely. It’s principally about why we love what we love, care for the things about which we care, devote our lives to something instead of letting the drag of apathy pull us into handing ourselves over to nothing. At heart, this is a reflection about the places, people and things to which we give our hearts. It’s a celebration of lives capable of loving those things—big, small, and everything in between —even baseball.
But it really isn’t about baseball, although I write this while totally exhausted because of baseball—with good reason, as last night I voluntarily had only four hours of sleep in order to watch a game which took place half a continent away, played by millionaires who have no idea I exist. Yet I was invested, which is a ridiculous understatement for what felt like living and dying with every pitch. I was “all in,” in a house and town full of people who were “out cold” as they obliviously slept the night away as if there were not living and dying going on in their midst. Or at least, so it felt to me at 1 a.m.
Somehow over the last thirty years I fell in love with a baseball team with little capacity to do anything but break my heart. It started in my freshman year of high school in 1985, when the man who would unknowingly become one of the most influential teachers in my life, Gary Shriver, wrote the score from the previous evening’s World Series game on the chalkboard, because his hometown Kansas City Royals were playing. It was the beginning of the second Reagan administration. “We are the world” spun on vinyl. Mikhail Gorbachev had just taken over leadership in the Soviet Union. And Mr. Shriver loved the George Brett led Royals. Thus, I loved them too.
Little did I know that eight years later I would move to Kansas City and make a life, career, family, church and community of forever friends in that same city over the first fourteen years of my married and adult life. Little did anyone know that the Royals would not be in the playoffs again for twenty-nine years, the longest playoff drought for any major league sports team in any professional sport. Until on September 30, 2014, that ended, with me in Roanoke, Virginia, as the sole person within a tank-of-gas car ride to cherish what this meant for a city, her people and me, even while uncertain how it ever came to mean so much.
Except, it is things such as these that fill our lives. While we mostly—and rightly—talk about the great needs and concerns of life, the big loves and lovers with whom we must first attend, and the deepest joys which will never play out on a television screen, it is also worth celebrating that our lives can be about small loves as well. It shows our capacity to live lives worthy of the word “life” that we are able to love the big and important, alongside the small and seemingly inconsequential.
In fact, maybe it unveils how much we indeed reflect the image of God, who takes joy in galaxies and dandelions, blue whales and minnows, you and a woodchuck: the big, the small and everything in between.
I believe it does. Thus, today I am thankful not just for the score of a game (for which I am very thankful), but for a life that allows me to fall in love so easily—recklessly even, shown in nothing so much as giving my heart to a team such as the Royals. I am grateful that although this momentary euphoria will have almost certainly ended for my team by the time you read this, I can still hold such moments as precious reminders of how life is filled with something instead of nothing. I can rejoice in the jagged paths of life which allowed me to fall in love with a city, her people and a team so far away from the place life has now taken me. In short, I can see that life is God-haunted, when I have eyes to see.
In our capacity to love the big, the small and everything in between, the image of the One beyond us is more perfectly shown in us. It is right there, as we delight in all of life.
So, this really isn’t about baseball.
. . . well, maybe just a little it is.
Love big and small,