Weekly Words of Wellness

October 24, 2014 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner

"The Church of Baseball"

It's that wonderful time of year again, World Series time, and so it seems appropriate to reflect on a few of the great spiritual truths that baseball has to teach us about life and wellness. I am certainly not the first person to think of the game of baseball in spiritual terms. In the great baseball movie "Bull Durham," there is a point in the movie where Annie Savoy (played by Susan Sarandon), refers to the "Church of Baseball."

     "I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball... It's a long season and you gotta trust. I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball."

     While I don't consider baseball to be a religion, I do in fact believe that there are indeed many spiritual truths that it has to teach us.

There Is No Time Limit--It Will Take As Long As It Takes

Baseball is different from most other sports in that there is no clock keeping track of time for a game. A half inning, which consists of a team making three outs, could be over in as quickly three minutes or it could take as long as thirty minutes, it all depends on what unfolds. When a game begins one does not know if it will last for nine innings or sixteen innings, for three hours or six hours. It will take as long as it takes. The spiritual lesson here, an important reminder in our sometimes over-schedules lives, is that not all that is important in life can be measured by the clock. Many wonderful things unfold slowly and I know that I, for one, simply need to learn to put away the watch or clock and live fully in the present moment without worrying about how much longer something is going to take to happen. A good conversation will simply take as long as it needs to take. Helping a friend in need will simply take as long as it takes. Raising a child or serving as a caretaker to a loved one, will simply take as long as it takes.

You Never Know When It's Your Turn, And So You Always Need To Be Ready

    When a baseball team is in the field playing defense, the infielders and outfielders never know when the ball might be hit to one of them, so they must ready at all times. Attend any Little League game and you will inevitably hear the coach shouting out to the players in the field reminders such as, "Look alive out there!" or "Be ready, because this one might be coming your way!" Being ready involves being ready both physically and mentally, as alert players stay aware of the ever-changing game situation at every moment. This is important, as then they will know just how to react if the ball comes their way. When it comes to wellness, it is equally important to stay alert, ready, and prepared for whatever comes our way. An important decision affecting your own wellness, or an opportunity to serve or be there for someone in need could present itself at any moment, so "Look alive out there," and "Be ready, because this one might be coming your way."

The Goal Is To Help Each Other Get Home

    Most sports have a goal, a place the athletes are trying to get to. It might be a finish line, a goal line, a hole, a net, or a hoop. What is the goal in baseball? The goal is to get yourself and your teammates around the bases in order to get "home." If you come up to bat with teammates already on base, your goal is to get them safely home. That goal is so important that you might even sacrifice yourself intentionally with a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly to advance your teammate one base closer to home. Getting home strikes me as a great metaphor for getting to that place where we are integrated and whole, that place where our actions and our beliefs are fully aligned, where we are well. When we are home in this sense, we are able to experience a peace that then empowers us to help others get home as well, which along the way may well require some sacrifices on our part.

     Whether you are rooting for the Giants, the Royals, or just enjoy watching a well-played game of baseball, I hope you enjoy the World Series. As you do, you may find yourself pondering about some deeper life lessons that baseball has taught you. If the Spirit moves you, feel free to drop us a line or comment on our Facebook page about the spiritual truths you see being played out whenever you attend the "Church of Baseball."
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