It's Opening Day. Time once again to hear those magic words, "Play Ball!"
I still have a one-paragraph essay that I wrote in 2nd Grade. We were asked to write a paragraph about the theme: “I Like to Play.” Out of roughly 30 kids in class, I was one of 7 who wrote about playing baseball. My contribution:
"I like to play baseball. It is fun. In some places they have Little League games. I’m going to join a Little [League] team this year. Someday I’m going to join a big baseball team. Sometimes you get money. I’m going to try to play real well and maybe I will get some money. I hope so."
I may have wanted to play ball at one time, but I really never had the chance and I certainly never made any money at it. We lived far enough out of town that it never worked for me to go to little league practice. When we played baseball in gym class, it was clear who played little league and who played right field.
I have a son and a grandson who have played a lot more than I have. I don’t think they were in it for the money. Sometimes, it was for the looks. Have you ever known anyone who was more interested in getting the uniform, the glove, the shin guards, the bat and even the shredded bubble gum so they could look like a ballplayer? And then those same kids would practice sliding into second just to make sure that they got those uniforms dirty—so that they would look like a real ballplayer!
Those motivations can be short lived. I have seen one little league ball player lose interest pretty quickly after getting hit by a pitch.
Just as there may be many reasons that people play baseball, there can be many reasons that people enter into a journey of faith. Tom Boswell, baseball writer for the Washington Post, writes in Why Time Begins on Opening Day, “Baseball isn’t necessarily an escape from reality, though it can be; it’s merely one of our many refuges within the real where we try to create a sense of order on our own terms.”
So my question is, when we look for a sense of order on “our own terms,” what are we looking for?
Jesus asked his early disciples that same question. After John the Baptist identified Jesus as the “Lamb of God” to two of his own disciples who then followed Jesus, Jesus asked them, “What are you looking for?” (John 1:38b).
So I repeat Jesus’s question: What are you looking for in your spiritual journey? What are the deeper needs that drive your spiritual search? Do you find faith to be an escape from reality? Or is your faith a search for meaning? A search for orientation in a chaotic world? Relief from suffering? Freedom from fear? Social order? Is it a search on your own terms, or are you open to receive new answers?
I invite you to spend some time reflecting on these questions as we approach a week that we call “Holy.” It can be tempting to offer easy answers that sound religious. But I invite you to dig deeply into your heart. What are you looking for in your spiritual journey?
The two disciples responded to Jesus with what may sound like a lame reply: “where are you staying?” I don’t think they were asking for his contact information or local address. I think they may have already sensed something unique and different about Jesus. Maybe they already had an inkling that the One who one day would tell them about his Father’s house with “many dwelling places” would lead them on a journey to God.
So they asked, “where are you staying,” and Jesus replied “Come and see.”
On this Opening Day, what are you looking for? Can you hear the invitation from Jesus to “come and see?” You just might discover the moment that time begins!
Photo: Spring Training, New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals, at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, Jupiter, Florida, on February 27, 2023. Photo by Tom Frost.
 Thomas Boswell, Why Time Begins on Opening Day (New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1984), 288.