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Saturday, July 26, 2014

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Why do people continue to show up at the ballpark on Addison and Clark in Chicago? They don’t show up because the team is a winning ball club, bringing championships and pennants to the grandstands. In fact, any honest Cubs fan will tell you the team hasn’t been good in years and it’ll be years before the hope of capturing the elusive World Series will enter back into our dreams.

Growing up in Peoria my family often went to Peoria Chiefs baseball games at old Meinen Field. I remember chatting my dad’s ear off asking him about where we were sitting, if I could get autographs from these no-name ball players who one day would be the next Ozzie Smith or Ken Griffey Jr., and what the chances were of me snagging a foul ball. I went with great expectations.

Now that I am much older and more aware of the beauty and the spirituality of the game, I have come to realize not only why so many continue to go watch a bad ball club but also the reason why I go myself:

connection.

We are a part of a world of disconnection. Things were created to be a certain way, and they are not that way, and we feel it in every fiber of our being.

We feel it when our heart sinks at the sight of Styrofoam cups and burger wrappers lining our creek beds rather than flowers bursting with beautiful blooms.
A disconnection with the environment.

We feel it when we realize what once gave us life --a relationship, our work, and perhaps even our church-- now feels like an obligation, something that exhausts rather than excites and inspires.
A disconnection with each other.

But it hasn’t always been like this. In the first chapter of Genesis, when God creates the first people, God blesses them. This is significant. The story begins with humans in right relationship—in healthy, life-giving connection—with their maker. All of their relationships flowed from the health of this one central relationship—people and God.

Then, like the 2003 Cubs team, everything goes south. They choose another way. And they become disconnected. They are told there will be conflict between one another; there will be conflict between them and the soil.

 We’re severed and cut off, disconnected in a thousand ways, and we know it, feel it, and are aware of it every day. It’s an ache in our bones that won’t go away. And so from an early age we have this awareness of the state of disconnection we were born into, and we have a longing to reconnect.

I face the traffic of Lake Shore Drive during the dog days of summer to catch a baseball game for that reason. It is why you go to the Met in New York to be with a group of people and listen to an opera that will move you in ways you never have been before. It is why you go on that boat trip or hiking trip with your buddies because what you see and experience reconnects you not only to each other, not only to yourself, but to something greater:
      to the God who dwells within you.

Standing up and stretching while singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” connects us to something beyond ourselves. We don’t know all those who have gathered. We come from vastly different backgrounds, we disagree on hundreds of issues, but for an evening, for a fleeting moment, we gather around these ball players and that artwork, this artist and these songs, and we get along –we connect. The experience moves us because it taps into how things were meant to be, and few places exist where we can experience what God intended on such a large scale.

That desire is why people continue to show up, for a hundred years now, to Addison and Clark. It’s why we walk through the doors of any concert, church service, or rally for a just cause. We feel connected to the people we’re having the experience with, and not just connected, but the experience taps into that awareness of something bigger than all of us that we’re brushing up against in the process.

That in itself is reason enough

to
show
up.
[Adam Quine, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln]

 

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