Baseball As A Road To God|Part 3

In this third part of the series we will be talking about the fifth and sixth innings in the bigger picture of baseball as a metaphor road of to God.

5th Inning: Miracles:

Prayer changes people, not things.

John Sexton

Same can be said the most nuanced notions in the study of religion is miracles. Some are looked at as answers to prayers, an effect of a magic trick. But miracles are really a special kind of hierophany. The definition of a miracle is moments of deep inspiration emerging from unlikely outcome at the most crucial times. Baseball miracles invoking ecstasy, electricity, and awe with the fans. To go deeper into the definition is to understand the Latin root of the word miraculous-object of wonder, a manifestation of the divine, and a revelation on a different plane.

True miracles in baseball change the course of the game, a series, and a season. Most of these miracles happen in September and October with the occurrence of the World Series. One true example is the perfect game played during the 1956 World Series game. That day in baseball lore, the game was pitched perfectly not seen since 1922 World Series game. To this day the miracles that happened during this game has not been seen to this day in any other World Series played since.

But there is of course “false miracles” in baseball which appear to be miraculous, but in truth are really ordinary products of coincidences or probability. One such example in the “Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff” also known as the “shot heard’ round the world.” What Giant’s Bobby Thomson’s swinging connection on a fastball from the Dodgers pitcher resulted in pennant game. The ball to this day is missing in the stands. But decades later the unsettling fact became clear that the Giants had cheated using a sophisticated signaling system to players on the field. A miraculous moment diminished as false.

How do baseball’s miracles coincide with religion’s take on miracles? Miraculous is the gist of myth, myth permeates religion. Sometimes the story of a miracle entails the intervention or manifestation of a higher power. In itself, miracles convey a wonderment and amazement that transpires a sacred about all place. In baseball some of the solid hits become line drive outs, some of the weakest become box scores hit, few even win games. Other times players accomplish what their team needs at the expense of their statistics diminished as a result both on paper and scoreboard. All comes to the idea of concupiscence.

6th Inning: Blessings and Curses

What makes baseball so great is that everyone can play it- little kids and old people. But only the blessed are destined to play in the majors.

Tippy

When we speak of a blessed ballplayer, we use the word blessing in many other ways and contexts in both religious and secular. Blessing is a function of our belief that somehow God is on our side-either the team, the individual players and the fans are invoking a God as well. However, the deeply connected sibling of blessing is a curse. The word bless is ecstatic sensation one experiences after the release of profound accursedness, where a curse is associated with painful prolonged suffering that “sticks” to an object. Both are intertwined as faith and doubt. This all plays into baseball by the slow intense rhythms the game goes through at times.

The great baseball curses are associated with painful prolonged championship droughts, booted ground balls, most of all wrenching defeats. Blessings and curses also are tied to events off the field in bizarre stories of omens and harbingers. This bizarre practice even involves teams whose identities are deeply tied to how they and the fans have dealt with accursedness and epic adversity. It not so much how the teams, towns, and fans handle the curse, but how a reaction to it. The reaction, in the end, shapes the blessing when it comes and determines the effect it will have as a whole. This is where the famous cry in baseball come from “wait’ll next year.”

For teams accursed repeatedly to suffer preordained pain or hardship, the hardship is a necessary prelude to being released from its clutches and receiving great blessings. The most famous of all curses in baseball is the Course of the Cubs World Series appearance drought. It would take until 2016 to finally lift the curse dating back to 1945 and a World Series win since 1908. All this time Cub fans have accepted the fate with a good measure of cheer. Neither hopeful nor despairing but delighted in the status of baseball’s lovable loser.

Adversity is baseball’s handmaiden; the great challenge and it’s a great lesson. Like in religion, a baseball game is founded on aspirations rarely met. It generates far more failure than fulfillment. No matter how high the aspirations are, there still is joy, defeat, a cause of sorrow, but it is not about the curses, but about baseball and the moment of ecstatic release of blessing. Baseball can be a catalyst for everyone everywhere to see through curses there are blessings.

As in life, baseball too has it’s saints and sinners. In the fourth and final part of the series, the last three innings inches closer to the clubhouse of life. Stay tune!

Baseball As A Road To God: Seeing Beyond the Game, by John Sexton

Commit To Being Healthy|120 Days Becoming Healthy

There are only three to four months a year where people are not celebrating something with food. So technically you have to navigate through the rest of eight to nine months trying to avoid going over board. April isn’t one of those months, especially when you come off forty days of giving up something in the food category called Lent. No wonder when Easter/Passover comes around you are shoving hot cross buns in your mouth while taking out the chocolate Easter bunnies like Mr. Mc. Gregor in The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

hungry animation GIF

BUT…. I manage to contain myself when it came to those oh so wonderful little chocolate bunnies. I only had one and it was Cadbury.

How Was I Successful?

At the beginning of the month I had to move desk space at work again (cue eye roll, really??), but this meant moving far away from the candy dish full of mini Kit Kats and M&M (maybe a Snickers bar in there too) to a whole new section where the green juice and Raisin Bran cereal people hang out . Yep I’m counting this as a successful point in the month-don’t judge me! Also having a desk faraway from the the break room meant those left over lunch meeting stuff was never seen by me until the end of the day.

On the fitness side of things I started to get really into training for the 5k I will be running in July. Just walking during lunch along the trail behind the building and getting a good run in early in the morning has helped to bring back the running stamina needed to get through 3.1 miles around the stadium. I will admit it has been a few years since I last trained for a 5K let alone a half marathon. In the process of the last month I have seen a significant loss of weight compare to the first two months of the year. You can call it motivation when another 4lbs comes off. Along with walk/run training part, I have been back to weight lifting to help in the process of building muscle to replace the fat I am loosing.

Last month I talked about eating at my desk most days due to having so much work to slog through. Instead I take my lunch and a book to read when no one in the break room wants to talk to me (a common thing really. Is that healthy?) to the break room to get away. At one point I drove to Woodenville to get lunch at Shake n’ Go to get away for awhile. Not taking my work home with me and allowing myself time to unwind from a stressful day has helped so much. Just setting those boundaries has helped with having a weekend I can now call “me time.” Commit to being healthy is not all about diet and exercise, but also being healthy mentally. I wrote a post a week ago regarding me trying to be everything to everyone.

What Didn’t Go So Well?

With Easter comes BREAD!! I grew up as a bread kid. I would hide pieces of bread in my room to consume later. At one point my parents had to hid the bread from me or lock the bread box! Just as Oprah has said many times, I love bread and I could eat nothing but bread everyday if it meant I could not get fat (chocolate too!). I’m with you Oprah! The fact is every Easter comes hot cross buns, resurrection rolls, and anything with yeast in it. I may have over indulged in the baked goods at work, home and even church. Easter Sunday the church had pancake breakfast before both services. Yep I had a helping of two pancakes and shame on me because I knew better.

What Motivates Me?

Motivation is to establish healthy habits, and get myself ready for the 3.1 miles in July. But lets be real, its the fact I’m loosing “extra” weight that is motivating me to keep going. Having coworkers and friends saying I look more healthy than before helps during the moments when I almost want to give up on bad days.

What Can I do Differently next month?

The first few months this year I was on Whole30 for 90 days and in April I decided to take a month off from doing the program. In May I will be going back on Whole30 again to reset after Easter indulgences. With the local farmers markets starting to open around the area, getting fresh produce for my Whole30 will be easier and keeping with my goals of getting as much healthy fresh food as possible.

On the fitness side of doing things differently, I will be continuing with the couch to 5k training plan for July. If the weather becomes more sunny, maybe getting off the treadmill in the morning for a run in the morning would be great.

I Give Myself 4/5   Stars for this month!

Note To Self: Stop Trying To Be Everything

Being healthy is to overall focus on myself for once. After going a few months at work eating my lunch at my desk almost everyday or having lunch cut short, taking my work home every night and weekends at the expense of my sanity. No wonder at the beginning of March I was knocked out by a cold. While taking a sick day, I realized as I went in and out of sleeping, I needed to stop feeling guilty for taking care of myself.

I have this habit of trying to be everything and doing everything for everyone. Maybe it has to do with being a women, or the competitiveness of society, or just social media making me feel like crap. Either way it seems like an endless cycle of trying to be everything; perfect friend/girlfriend/employee/daughter/Christian, staying busy all the time, staying fit, eating healthy, trying not to loose your sh!t at small things and large things, keeping a smile on your face, etc….the list goes on. In this modern society we have created a mindset that if we are not doing what needs to be done and being productive 100%, that we are being selfish, lazy, or worst, weak. It’s an unhealthy mindset which leads to burn out, depression, anxiety and host of other issues. Not to mention how tiring it all has become.

It has been tiring to the point of exhaustion-I’m exhausted. Isn’t it tiring trying to be perfect all the time? Exhausted trying to be everything without taking a break to focus on ourselves and our mental health.

For years I swept my feelings and issues under the rug, ignoring them and replacing them with unhealthy copping mechanisms. Always turned out miserable, feeling horrible all the time and left as a hallow out shell. After reading Becca Risa Luna’s post on this very topic, her advice was simple, taking care of yourself is work that needs to be done too. Work which you do not sweep feelings, issues, and health under the rug just to keep others happy or to be perfect.

A part of being healthy is to commit to being healthy mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Just by realizing this, you are more capable than you give yourself credit for is a part of taking care of one’s self. Giving yourself permission to take a break for as long as you need, to not control everything around you, to set limits, boundaries, and just live in the moment doing what makes you feel nurtured. Give yourself credit for just being, for living, and for once taking care of yourself. Taking care of yourself is work needing to be done too. You don’t need to be everything to everyone, you just need to be you. There is nothing selfish or lazy about needing to be yourself and taking care of yourself in the process. No need to be perfect for everyone.

As I continue into the next month, I’m still reminding myself this simple basic rule; taking care of yourself is work needing to be done too. Giving myself credit for being, for living, and taking care of myself at times first. Even if it is to simply read a novel while hiding from the world for a day or two.

Plants of My Life

Tulips in the garden

Now with April showers being May flowers, I thought it would be time to punch out this post about the plants I have acquired for the last few years. Most have been brought home to celebrate a milestone in life (like a bouquet of flowers) or others have been pass down from a family member through propagation from the original plant. A few weeks ago I started noticing every time I walk by a co worker’s desk, I wanted to bring home another plant. You can say I’m becoming a crazy plant lady instead of a crazy cat lady!

Plants Acquired:

Fig Rubber plant, Cyclamen, Jade plant, African violet, and Cuban Oregano plant.

Rubber Fig Plant (ficus “Burgundy” elastica):

I recently brought this plant home after wanting a baby rubber plant for so long. I would see these beautiful plants every where on Pinterest, but did not want to buy a fake one at Target. Back in January while shopping in Trader Joe’s I saw one in the floral department and decided right there the plant was coming home (screw the bagged lettuce!). Since January the plant has taken off with averaging new leaves twice every two weeks. The plant is going to be tree in no time!

Cyclamen (abchasicum):

I bought this plant to mark my second time graduating from college last spring. This plant has given me trouble from the beginning and at one point it nearly died. I has not bloomed since the day I brought it home, but I have been trying to force bloom it for a few weeks with fertilizer. Will see! The flowers are a range of light pink-purple to deep rich pink-purple. Some are white as well.

Jade Plant (arassula ovata) & Succulents:

The jade plant was too good to pass up when I first saw it. Since then it has exploded in growth near the window I have put it. Jade plants are succulents which may explain why I can go a few days with dry soil without much complaint. The other succulents were a prize at a friend’s baby shower a few years ago. One succulent created a few more after propagation, thus there are many.

African Violet (saintpaulia):

A reminder of Tanzania for me. Even thou these do not grow in that part of Africa, the blooms on the plant remind me of Tanzinite.

Easter Lily

Easter Lilies (Lilium longiflorum) & Peace Lilies (spathiphyllum):

The peace lily was inherited from my Grandmother when she was moving house. This one in particular has been re-potted a few times since, and has now bloomed more than twice a year. At one point it almost died when the roots no longer had enough soil to cover them in the pot! As for the Easter Lily, this was another plant from Trader Joe’s. Around Easter these lilies bloom into a long trumpet looking flower signaling rebirth. This year I had to get one.

Lucky Bamboo plants

Lucky Bamboo (Draccens bravnii):

My mother gave me this plant as a house warming gift for my first apartment. Since then it has thrived and moved from one location to another without much complaint. Mine is not planted in soil, but freely standing between rocks in a bowl full of water. I have found the plant is much happy being in a bowl of water and near as much natural light as possible.

Wandering Jew, and Peperonia w/ basil plant

Wandering Jew (tradescantia zebrina) & Peperonia Radiator:

I saw these plants on the clearance rack at Home Depot and with TLC, they are a lot more healthy. The Wandering Jew plant since has started taking over the window ledge and the Radiator Peperonia’s leaves no longer looks as if an animal took a bite out of them.

Poinsettia

Poinsettia (euphorbia pulcherrima) & Cuban Oraguno (plectranthus amboinicus):

This little plant was left over from the Christmas decorations from work. I brought it home after the company I work for closed for the holiday break. Since this little plant has stayed alive, and even started producing new leaves which are not red, but a dark green. My guess this little poinsettia will be still alive come next Christmas. The Cuban oragano plant is a propagation from another plant inherited from a family member. I has shared it’s space with many other herb plants over the years, and keeps growing.

But wait… you may have noticed I have plants that are poisons to cats. Yep I have a cat living with these plants. As a cat owner I am perfectly aware of how deadly a few of these plants are when a cat ingests them or breaths the pollen in. I take special care when it come to having plants that pose a risk. The lilies are always in a location where the cat cannot interact with them. As for the others, Maddie kitty does not have a habit of eating, chewing, or rubbing herself on the plant leaves of any of the above plants. Still, When it comes with tropical indoor plants, you really need to gauge how the cat interacts with the plants on a daily bases to know if there will be a problem.

Where I Buy:

  • Trader Joe’s Stores
  • Home Depot
  • Sky Nursery (Shoreline WA)

I’m not done yet with collecting more plants. I have a list of plants I’m looking to add to the indoor collection. I would like a prayer plant, dwarf date palm, banana tree (Musa oriana),and monstera deliciosa ( cottage cheese plant). Hopefully by then I will have a house roomy enough for the cheese plant to grow and the rubber plant!

Baseball As A Road To God|Part 2

In continuing this four part series we will look at faith, doubt and conversion a person goes through in playing the game of baseball or as a fan, as a road to God from the book
Baseball As a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game by John Sexton.

2nd Inning: Faith

Ya gotta believe!

Tug McGraw (NY Mets 1973)

Baseball offers a window into the nature of faith even in the deepest meanings of the word. Faith is often the handmaiden of hard work, intellectual and otherwise. But in baseball faith is something more than coincidence. It is involved in most delightful anomalies. Faith, not reason, gets us to God, just as faith in one’s favorite baseball team will make it to the World Series.

Looking at some of the most famous players in baseball history, each one of them had faith in themselves, their teammates and the fans to step on the field to play the game. Looking closer, does each player show faith? Faith does not have to be loud or full of swagger. It often is private. At little league games you see it, a coach, a parent or family member bestowed this faith principle to each child who plays. Over time as the child move through the different levels of the league, one element of faith is acquired at a time. In a Christian’s life, each person who walks the road to God has faith principles bestowed on them by others in the community of believers. As the person moves through life’s stages, each stage they acquire one element at a time. Each of the four elements: comfort, motivation, understanding, meaning and ultimate purpose are tough at all levels of the game. Each blend together to form faith-baseball faith.

It can come in flashes, come very slowly, or even painfully. On a baseball field, as it is in life, faith is not certainty; it is a special kind of confidence. A leap of faith when stepping up to the pitcher mound, stepping into the batter’s box, and when run the bases. To have faith in something unseen, is to embrace feeling over logic. As Tug McGraw said many of times in his baseball career “ya gotta believe!” Faith goes century by century. Baseball as Sexton points out baseball can lift us from the ordinary to a different plane as well propel a drive toward something. Its the faith anything can happen during baseball season.

3rd Inning: Doubt

Doubt is but another element of faith

Saint Augustine

As a Seattle Mariners fan, each season ballplayers and the fans start the season with fans doubting the team could win games. It is this doubt that at times can make it harder to have faith. When the victories in the games being played happen, the player’s outlook starts to move from doubt to hope and even faith.

Doubt is at the core of baseball. It touches every player and every fan. You don’t even have to look far to find doubt happening in baseball games. Take a look at the players in little league, middle and high school teams to see doubt playing out. The player telling the coach they doubt they can even hit the winning home run, but the coach pushes the doubt aside. Baseball tolerates doubt, even when it can be resolved. Baseball embraces the human judgement rather that the science of insta-replay. Even with all the technology going into figuring out if strikes happen in the strike zone, the umpire still makes the call.

Doubt is central to religious experience, just has it is in baseball. Faith and doubt are not separated, they coexist together. In baseball as in religion, doubt and faith are intertwined in the flow on the field. In Eastern tradition there is a saying “great doubt, great awakening, little doubt, no faith.” Baseball players, fans and faithful live with doubt, even Jesus had doubts at times (Gospel of Matthew). Faith communities at their best add to the storehouses of human well-being.

4th Inning: Conversion

Is God a clown who whips away your bowl of soup one moment in order, next moment to replace it with another bowl of same soup? Even nature isn’t such a clown as that. She never plays the same tune twice.

C.S. Lewis

Conversion is not for the faint of heart. It can begin with a dramatic external event or it can be a result of lengthy period of reexamination and introspection. It is a difficult process requiring effort and perseverance. Ask any baseball fan-or any fan of a team, the heart breaking feeling when a team so ingrained in their life move on to another location. The same for a favorite ball player to another team. One story of baseball lore I know well is the Portland Mavericks back in the 70s, a team stitched together by unexpected players. Then the end of the team after Major League Baseball expanded with the team Portland Beavers in 78. Many fan would eventually convert not only to the Portland Beavers team, but also to the Seattle Mariners.

In baseball it can be entirely about the future, requiring no rejection of previous allegiances. Spiritual conversion looks forward and backwards, same as in baseball. Previous allegiances are in the end rejected even as new ones faithfully embraced. Think about one of your favorite baseball player. How many times has this person been traded or went to another team? Each time they go through conversion-a great leap froward. The same can be said of the fan who looses their favorite team to another city. This conversion mirrors the nature of religious conversion each full of feeling, emotion or acceptance. At times it can be a journey from a sleeping baseball fan to awakening. Every experiences, spiritual or secular is an experience of conversion.

In the first inning, of sacred space and sacred time, the idea of baseball touching transcendent comes into perspective when it comes to conversion both on the field and in the stands. Conversion is a serious matter of two components: dilemma and choice. Both put many players and fans at a crossroads before, during, and after a season. Conversion in baseball cannot be a crossroad of stop and wait, because baseball pushes forwards by life.

Conversion possess a powerful capacity to induce this sensation and stir feelings of childhood excitement, anticipation, sorrow and joy. All components players and fans go through in a single game, if not life.

Baseball is more than a game. It’s like life played out on a field.

Juliana Hatfield

Baseball As A Road To God: Seeing Beyond the Game, by John Sexton

Commit To Being Healthy|90 days In

Tis healthy to be sick sometimes.


Henry David Thoreau

Lent began in the month of March and for forty days before Easter (April) it all about finding the balance between exercise and being healthy. Which would have been lovely if I did not start the season of Lent off sick! In the spirit of being healthy, well… some times the cold virus finds you, and takes you down for a few days. I am thankful every year I do not get the flu virus and with being vaccinated every year, this is the reason why I bounce back from a cold as well. It meant having to put my 5k training plan on the back burner for a week and half to make sure I was healthy enough to start back on it.

Being sick sucks! Having a hot toddy tea and reading the latest book on the royals made it better!

This month had been one of those going from two extremes; stress and peace. After enduring one extreme after another in the month of February, March started out with an extreme of snow still falling, to ending with spring sun. Gave the whole meaning of March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb. Also another month of food with St. Patrick’s day full of the most unhealthy versions of Irish food and cheap green beer at restaurants. I some how made it through this month. Staying ninety days committed to making healthy choices is not a sprint, but a marathon at times. So here is the questions and answers to how the March- 90 days in all went down.

How Was I Successful?

With spring coming early in March, there were days when the sun was shinning and getting outside for a few hours helped with getting in the necessary exercise needed. With starting to train for my 5k this July, I started to go walking at least a few times a week after work.

Real authentic Irish food was made and consumed on St. Partick’s day instead the over hyped unhealthy food people associate the day with. This year I decided to make an Irish boxy with brown gravy to make my English Great-Nana proud, and Irish soda bread made with Guinness. May come across not even close to Whole30, but the ingredients are as wholesome as it get.

What Went So Well?

The fact there was a stretch of days of sunny warm weather in Seattle right before spring. After a few days of snow showers coming down, and the other crazy weather happening, just have a warm sunny day helped in getting outside for a few hours. With days becoming more spring like later in the month, the farm stands along the road started popping up selling fresh produce. Having a farm stand on my way to work and back home helped with those days when you need something healthy, but don’t want to drive to the grocery store.

What Didn’t Go So Well?

As I mentioned above, getting sick at the beginning of the month did not go so well. Getting older being struck down for a few days with a cold or flu just takes a whole lot out of you. Research as suggested when someone starts changing some of their unhealthy eating habits and looses weight, the immune system

Sick-in-office

I started to find myself keeping up with Whole30 plan slipping. When I came down with a cold, all I wanted was garlic bread, orange juice, and chicken noodle soup. Each of those are not completely Whole30 compliant, and feeling unwell I did not care! This I did not care went on for two weeks where I was fasting by not eating breakfast or lunch in order to speed up my weight loss. Great if you have a fast metabolism, but as we age or metabolism slows down.

What Can I do Differently?

Figure out how to balance all the stress happening all of sudden from work, and life. I am known to be a stress eater, so when times of stress happen it can derail me fast. With stress comes unhealthy sleeping habits and putting your immune system at risk of catching the latest virus circulating around. I realized taking my work home every night is not a solution to the mass amount of work needing to be done, and I need to set boundaries for myself to follow through on. With the days becoming longer and sunny, I should take a real lunch break and get outside for awhile instead of sitting eating my lunch at my desk while doing work.

Yep I maybe turning into a workaholic-please send help soon!

I believe this could be what I do differently next month. Stop stressing over not getting everything done in one day, and set boundaries in eating away from my desk. My mental health and sanity will thank me later for doing this.

What Motivates Me?

After the bought of sickness from a cold spreading around work, I decided to go through all my workout cloths and start fresh again. During a store closing sale, I picked up new workout bottoms to start training for my 5k run in July. Just putting these bottoms on gave the motivation to get out there an kick some butt! With three months to go before running 3.1 mile around the T-Mobile Park for a non-profit, and the fact summer is fast approaching, I need to be fit for all the hikes I want to take.

How Do I Feel?

I’m feeling the spring fever of a fresh start again. I noticed a little of weight has come off this past thirty days, but not nearly as much as last month. I feel better after being knocked down for a few days by a cold, and now with sun coming out, my goal of healthy habits started to really ramp up.

I Give Myself  4/5  Stars