“Another name for God is surprise.” – Brother David Steindl-Rast
Less then a month ago I stood at my kitchen sink wondering what I was going to wear to the Tampa Bay Rays opening day game. And to think that just less than a year ago I still referred to my son’s baseball uniform as his "costume."
But going to little league games, feeling inspired by my son’s enthusiasm for the sport, and watching our professional local team, the Rays, I have become a true fan of the game. Last year, when at the beach with a group of friends, I even got up from the table multiple times to check the score of the playoff game. My friends were as surprised as I was about my new found love of baseball.
My “thing” for a long time was that “I wasn’t that into sports.” And truthfully there are still many I can do without. Instead, I preferred music, movies, art, and dance as if the two were mutually exclusive. It’s like I was playing the part of a high school student in an 80’s movie. I mean what table do I belong at after all? The answer is probably none of them and all of them. (I just hope a senior from the football team doesn’t yell, “Incoming!” as he hocks a half-eaten doughnut in my direction.)
As a kid I didn’t really pay attention to the games my dad watched on television, though I always liked hearing the sound of the baseball bat hitting the ball. There is something so promising and nostalgic about that sound…
Last weekend on "CBS Sunday Morning" there was a story about a man who suffered from a stroke at the age of 36. What got him off of the couch was what he referred to as the "ping" of the swinging bat making contact with the ball. He asked his wife to take him across the street in his wheelchair so he could watch batting practice at the local high school. He soon became an assistant coach. He then learned to walk again. And now he is back in school and sharing his love of the game with kids who have disabilities. Baseball gave him a sense of purpose, and it gave him hope to keep on living.
Sometimes the things that cause us to wake up and feel alive are not what we ever would have expected. We are often asked by life to open up to the risk of making mistakes, failing, looking like a fool, or maybe even getting hit in the face with a ball, so we can finally unearth what we have been looking for all along. And often times it takes the unexpected, and sometimes even the undesirable, to find our purpose.
Baseball reminds me that it can be as simple as smelling the fresh cut grass and staying open to whatever comes one's way.
Here's the link to the "CBS Sunday Morning" story: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/baseball-gives-california-man-a-new-life-after-stroke/