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Opening Day, Closed

March 26, 2020

“Time, like an ever-rolling stream, Soon bears us all away; We fly forgotten, as a dream Dies at the opening day.” Isaac Watts, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” stanza 5

“Baseball breaks your heart,” Bart Giamatti once wrote. Of course, he didn’t mean it this way. He was noting how it begins and blossoms in spring and through summer, helping to shape the patterns of our lives. Then, when the chill of autumn comes, “when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”

This year baseball is heartbreaking because there isn’t any.

I was meant to be at Guaranteed Rate Field (has anything anywhere ever had a worse name?) today to see my beloved Royals take on the hometown Sox. Instead, I am at home with my quarantine roommates. Today was to have been Opening Day. Now, who knows when baseball will begin?

You might say, “It’s only a game.” I get that. There are more important things to worry about, although I do worry for those whose livelihoods are impacted. The players will be fine, but what about the peanut hawkers? Still, yes, it’s just a game. I know. But for me, it’s a loss. The rhythms of baseball – three strikes to an out, three outs to an inning, nine innings to a game, 162 games to a season – have shaped the middle six months of each year of my life. Today, I’m going to let myself grieve.

We have to let ourselves grieve during this time. If we allow ourselves to focus only on the life and death elements of this pandemic, or on debates surrounding the economy, our small griefs will slowly eat us alive. Life is made better by the little things, our passions and avocations. It might not be baseball for you. Concerts and plays have been cancelled. Book groups cannot meet in person. Travel is suspended. We need to grieve these losses. There are more important things, yes, but the less important things matter, too.

So today, Opening Day, I’m going to allow myself to be a little bit sad. I don’t know when the Royals will take the field to begin this season. The commissioner says they’ll still play 162. We’ll see. But Anders and Torsten may not get to play baseball and t-ball this year, and I will mourn that loss, too. In fact, it will break my heart.

Terence Mann, the fictional author in Field of Dreams, has a monologue that never fails to make me tear up: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”

It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.

Therein we find hope, even while what is meant to be constant is set aside. We believe that what once was will be again. Baseball will come back. More importantly, we will, too. Like an outfielder stepping out of shadow into sun in pursuit of a fly ball, we will emerge blinking into the light of a new day. I don’t know what will happen between now and then. I hope it will not be as bad as I fear it will be. But I know that, by God’s grace, we will step into the sunlight again.

And hey, it looks like the Royals are going to be tied for first place for a while. So that’s cool.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of new life, the patterns of springtime point to your glory. New life emerges, bearing witness to your Son. But this year it is harder to see. We seem to be losing so many things, more each day. Help us to see with the eyes of faith, believing and hoping even though we cannot see where we are going. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

From → COVID-19

  1. Carol Prinz permalink

    Thank you for all your heartfelt messages to the Grace family. The last sentence in your prayer above really touched me because currently I am reading “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On”, by Stormie Omartian. Seeing just the book title all day long is often sufficient. In spite of her compelling childhood, this author has such a heart for the Lord & for her reading audience. Thank you again. Pr. Dave, for your care & for your ministry to all of us, guiding us to the One who knows where we need to go and how to get us there . . . .

  2. patallen permalink

    Per George Will: “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.”

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