If you could use a little mid-Lent pick-me-up, and if you’re lucky enough to have a baseball glove somewhere in your house, do this: Snug your hand firmly into the glove. Work it open and closed a couple of times. Smack your fist into the pocket. Then take it off, press your face deeply into the webbing and inhale.
That’s what rebirth feels like.
Honestly, you didn’t really think it was an accident that the Dodgers are playing their home opener this year on the day after Easter, did you? And that the Angels are playing theirs four days later?
Consider: with Easter comes glorious springtime, along with the promise that misfortune, disaster and even death are not the end, that life will not only go on but will thrive and be transformed into something even more magnificent, that hope always, always will spring eternal.
And with baseball? Pretty much the same thing.
Some may sniff or even scowl at the comparison, but if you’ve ever felt the scrape of gritty red clay beneath your spikes underneath a sky so blue that it’s almost painful, if you’ve ever gloried in the reassuring grip of the stitching on a freshly rubbed ball, or taken satisfaction in the supple rhythmic stretch of your arm after a lazily thrown infield warm-up toss, or involuntarily closed your eyes and failed to suppress a languid smile after breathing in the intoxicating perfume of the freshly cut grass and the newly dragged dirt and the clean, barely stirring air—then resurrection, for you, is not an abstraction.
Baseball is all about coming home, and so is Easter. Anyone who has spent the long five months of winter suffering through sports that feature snow and ice and claustrophobic indoor arenas has an instinctive understanding of 40 days in the desert, and anyone who has spent the dark months repeating those defiant and hopeful four words—“Wait till next year!”—knows that the bright dawn will come and the stone will roll away and victory will throb in the air.
“He is risen!” and “Play ball!” both spring from the same joyous impulse of renewal. We all long to return again, under glowing skies in a newly recreated world, for a better season in the sun. We are freshly eager to run and leap and play with joy and verve and new confidence, and to take our happy show on the road.
We’re almost there. In the meantime, it’s good to remember that we can be faithful to our Lenten observances and still follow spring training in Arizona (on Fridays, ballpark sushi goes great with peanuts and beer).
Note: Beginning with this issue, Orange County Catholic will be delivered with the Sunday edition of the Orange County Register and will be available in all parishes and centers of the diocese on the same day.