Sunday, August 10, 2008

Baseball as Spiritual Practice

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

In baseball we begin and end at home. It’s important to note that home plate is not fourth base. Our goal in this game is to get home and be safe. Home is a concept not a place. Home implies safety, accessibility, freedom, comfort. Home is 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 has crashed onto the ground in front of him is safe. I want that. Most of us want that. 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 to say definitively, “She’s safe”.

Those who believe, whose faith is good, can accept that umpire at his gesture and stand up relieved. Some, like me, despite wanting it , are afraid to believe or do not trust. I do see him signal “safe”, but I am unbelieving. I run the bases again, skidding and scuffing. Again he signals, “Safe!”, but again I go to bat. I am bleeding by now, wanting to be home and wanting to be safe.

No comments: