It’s the best time of the year — no, I’m not referring to springtime or Easter Season, but perhaps a time even (blasphemously) better and more anticipated in my opinion: BASEBALL SEASON!
Regardless of Punxsutawney Phil and his fickle foreshadowing, baseball is now upon us and a ripe new schedule of pregnant anticipation is born unto us the faithful fans. Each year, it is a goal of mine to attend at least two to three games. Not just to watch them on TV or check the scores incessantly on the Internet, but actually shelling out anywhere from $15 to $150 a ticket for the privilege to hear the crack of a bat and smell freshly cut turf around a mound of dirt and seeds and spit.
And so, sunshine or drizzle, regardless of where my seat is — and even if the game is a blowout or my hot dog is cold — I am always happy to be at a game for one particular reason. It is a relishing of a moment often experienced with relish. It is an ephemeral action that figuratively burns bright then passes by in the blink of an eye. It is cumulatively a collection of sacred seconds that when combined create a cacophony of clapping, cheering and clamoring.
It is called “The Wave” and I find it deeply spiritual.
To me, it is not just a drunken bleacher ritual to pass the time. Not an obligatory late inning attempt to rally the troops or keep tired fans from seventh inning snoozing. Rather it is a soulful and nourishing exercise in the power of the collective; how a simple action of one man or woman with a vision can unite us all in this kinetic experience.
In some ways, I think of that person as a modern day Jesus Christ — a leader who brings together a fairly disparate group of all ages, shapes and colors to make meaning. That person resembles a humble visionary who drives home the importance and outcome of compassionate teamwork, and models that when we all come together there is great value in what we can do, as well as in the goodness both caught and taught. I see a fisher of men, a shepherd to one’s flock, a first mover, a creator, a risk taker, and someone unafraid to speak up.
Of course, growing up Catholic with an aunt for a nun, a godfather who is a priest, and 20 years of Catholic education coursing through my veins, maybe I am a bit biased (err … DEFINITELY biased) and tend to see the world through rose-colored Jesus goggles. Perhaps around Harvard Square I would intellectualize this last sentence and say I am now being rather “Ignatian” in noticing the sacred in the secular. Call it what you will, standing and sitting together with countless others convened around a common cause of belief and conviction is both stadium and sacramental life.
So, next time you’re at a game, and your team is losing by 10 and your beer is warm and the cheese has congealed over your second inning nachos, proudly stand up, throw up your hands, and give some props to high above.