Who here is a baseball fan? Why talk about Baseball? Well, it’s only fair after all, we did talk about football before the Super Bowl.
Baseball aficionados will tell you that it is more than a sport, it’s a state of mind. And because we are spiritual, everything is spiritual, so Baseball is a spiritual thing.
But this is not just a sport. Opening Day is a holiday for many, a tradition that dates back to the day when father and son, mother and daughter, would share the thrill of the first pitch and a new season of hopes and dreams.
And if you happen to be a Phillies fan like me, mostly hopes and dreams,—– fond reminiscences of winning seasons and pennant races!
The history of baseball in the United States can be traced to the 19th century, when amateurs played a baseball-like game by their own informal rules using home-made equipment. The popularity of the sport inspired the semipro national baseball clubs in the 1860s. Several attempts were made to organize the game, which eventually happened, under the New York rules of play, as opposed to the Boston rules, or any other set of rules from independent leagues.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the formation of the All-American Girls league during World War 2, immortalized in the film A League of Their Own.
So now we have baseball as we know it today, even with instant replay, which I’m not sure I agree with!
Let’s look at our â€˜national past-time. Many sport writers pay homage to the game with such titles as: Why Time Begins on Opening Day and How Life Imitates the World Series, both by Thomas Boswell; or Philip Lowry’s Green Cathedrals.
And no less a personage than Herbert Hoover pontificated that “next to religion, baseball has furnished a greater impact on American life than any other institution.”
Â Many relate to the game as they would to a religion. If you recall the 1988 film “Bull Durham,” the character played by Susan Sarandon goes so far in the opening scene as to decode a religion of baseball as the camera pans over candles and “icons.” Not a religion in itself, of course, the sport does incorporate four components that are also part of all the major religious faiths of the world: Creed, Code, Ceremony, and Community. How does baseball measure up to these four necessary components of the religious enterprise? Creed Baseball transcends time and space. It is not played against a clock, but creates its own time frame; its base lines stretch out, seemingly to infinity. Roger Angell wrote, “Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do … is keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain young forever.” Baseball is about finality, the attainment of a place and goal designated “home.” Comedian George Carlin encapsulated such a theme with this comment: “In football the object is to march into enemy territory and cross his goal. In baseball, the object is to go home.” Code of Conduct Baseball, even though it is obsessed with records and statistics, makes allowances for, even anticipates, human weakness and fallibility. As a New York City graffiti artist once wrote: “Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times,” yet he is known for his home runs. Or former commissioner Fay Vincent said: “What other game includes errors as one of the line items? We know people are going to make errors. No other sport acknowledges that.” Makes me think about our word which is missing the mark, a mistake, an error perhaps?
Ceremony Baseball is full with something akin to what some religious folks would define as “sacramentals,” such as trading cards, caps, jerseys and autographs, all “relics” of the game. Baseball has its own high holy-days (Opening Day, All-Star Game, World Series) and its shrines (Cooperstown, and some of those archetypal “green cathedrals” like Wrigley Field or Fenway Park) that bring a glaze to true fans’ eyes. Baseball games have incorporated into themselves an entire series of sub-rituals, from park ground rules down to the celebrity opening pitch and seventh-inning stretch (not just take me out to the ball game but also Sweet Caroline in Boston).
Community Baseball fosters loyalty, not only to a team, but to a city or metropolitan region. Each position on the field has its own “priest” in attendance with his own particular craft. My favorite position is second base & I cried when Chase Utley, second baseman for the Phillies, was traded. Baseball is saturated with narrative, anecdote and history as means of fostering identity and a community of continuity and memory. It holds up leaders of the past, both saints and sinners, as models and cautions to each new generation. Despite the fact that it took so long to include blacks(1947), baseball has functioned as an integrating factor in American life. Those at the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder have often made their own mark and a place of pride for their people through the game: e.g., Irish in the late 19th century; Hispanics in the last generation.
And sitting in any stadium or ball park, you will see a variety of people’s enjoying the game, a color-less fandom.
Baseball runs according to seasonal time, its four bases perhaps corresponding to the four seasons of the year. The playing season starts from spring training to world series, somehow imitating agricultural cycles of the earth: planting, growth and harvest. At least, hopefully, harvest a pennant.
Time seems less a tyrant during the baseball season. We can forget about it for a while knowing that the game continues until the last out.
But let’s look at the numbers ;what is the significance of the 9s? The ninety feet between bases, 9 innings, 9 players? The number nine, in metaphysics means every level of being in heaven and earth and beyond. It’s a number of harmony and patience; fitting for the game.
Then there is sixty-and-a-half feet between the pitching rubber and the plate, six is a perception of duality, the picture and the batter.
Baseball is timeless and space-less. In football and basketball, and almost all other sports, there is a starting time and an ending time. Even overtime is limited. Not so with baseball. There is a starting time, but the game isn’t over until the last out is recorded. It ain’t over until it’s over. We have a vision of eternity while we watch game.
And the time passes by measuring outs, not ticks of the clock. Oh, that we could measure our day in increments other than minutes and hours.
The batter even progresses counterclockwise, flaunting his freedom from the tyranny of the clock. Because of its freedom from time, baseball always leaves time for redemption. Until the final out, the final strike, no deficit is insurmountable. There’s always hope.
It reminds me of our gift from our Creator We can always start over as long as we are in the moment.
A football field has sidelines and end-zones. Limits. Basketball too. And baseball has a touch of that with the infield dimensions. But the outfield really is unlimited. There are no fixed measures for the placement of the outfield walls. Infinity again. A mere fly ball in one stadium could be a home run in another.
We are infinite. So, just because something happened one way yesterday, today we have a different view of the playing field. Shoot for the fences! Keep in a positive frame of mind.
And isn’t it interesting that this is the only sport that the defensive team has the ball, not the offensive team. What are the metaphysics of that? Maybe ego is the defensive team and we get to drive whatever we can at it to take dominion over our playing field?
As a metaphor for life, the dynamics of baseball must adjust as each batter steps into the batter’s box. Everyone is a different expression of our Creator.
Based upon the skills of the batter, the defensive team adjusts their positions and pitching style to give them the best opportunity to win. The micro battle about to play out.
The batter stands at home plate, defiantly poised before all that endless openness, hoping to reach each base safely and return home. That’s the gist of the game, each batter leaves home, and then strives to return home again, safely.
We do that each time we step into Unity’s home. And we can reach home safely each time we connect with our inner Christ.
We can look at our Spiritual Journey in the same way as a baseball player, different ahaas relating to the bases as we move forward to our next level of understanding, home again and ready to look for our next hit, our next aha.
Such is our daily life too. We practice our Principles and do our denials and affirmations, only sometimes, we have a forced error and must return to practice again. Or, like a batter, we think we know what to expect from the pitcher, yet ego sends a curve ball when we thought fast ball and we strike out. We head back to the dugout, to Unity, to our teachers; for help from the batting â€˜coach. The coaches suggestion: No expectations. Always be ready for what comes by going with the flow. Be practiced up, or prayed up.
We adjust to life’s hits and errors, sometimes changing our strategy along the way for the best possible outcome, using the guidance from our number 1 coach, God.
This game reminds us, too, that there is no such thing as perfection on this realm. We all know that a hitter who succeeds in only one-third of their at-bats is considered remarkable. And yet, we condemn ourselves for a mistake 20 years ago!
The long, 162-game season, allows for hope and dreams to come and go and possibly, come again. And if not, then spring training comes around, and the cycle resumes.
The same with our lives, we always get to start again if we so desire. And mostly, our lives are long enough to make adjustments as to the direction we wish to hit the ball. Itâ€™s our choice.
Baseballâ€™s teaches us that to return home we must rely on our communities, live according to seasonal time, and attend to local limits.
Baseball may seem like a fairly individualistic game. The duel between pitcher and batter calls forth individual feats of cunning and prowess. Yet, neither pitcher nor batter can succeed on their own, except for the rare instance of a home run.
In all sports there are rules, limits and physical boundaries. But only in baseball is a player rewarded for exceeding them — by hitting one ”out of the park.” It is the combination of power and defiance by metaphysically ”breaking the rules” in a sanctioned manner that grips the imagination. A miracle!
I think our personal spiritual â€˜homerunâ€™ is finding that place where we fit, where we feel we have found â€˜homeâ€™ and we just know we are on the right path for ourselves. To me, that was finding Unity, that might be the same for you.
Life is a spiritual journey. You play it one day at a time. One moment at a time. Each day brings you a new experience. If you truly believe, youâ€™ll be led, the Higher Power, like the baseball Gods, is in charge. We are simply servants open to be led. Enjoy each day. Give it your best. Remember, you are a gift created by God. As Yogi says, â€œIt ainâ€™t over â€˜till itâ€™s over.â€
Mother’s Day – Lessons from Famous Mothers
Have you heard of ‘Mothering Sunday’? That’s what the original day was called that honored Mothers. It can actually be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans festivals honoring their Goddesses Rhea and Cybele, for them, the Mothers of all.
And the early Christians picked up on the holiday and made it their own by honoring the ‘mother church’ on the 4th Sunday of Lent.
Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.
We know from our history that the American version of Mother’s Day had its roots in our Civil War. It went from ‘Mother’s Work Clubs’ to ‘Mother’s Friendship Clubs’ to ‘Mother’s Peace Day’ to what we have today, Mother’s Day.
I thought it might be fun and interesting to look at a few famous mothers, real and fictional, and see what lessons they may have taught us.
Of course, I honor my Mother and my Grandmothers for their love and unique ways they had that helped me become me. One thing I learned from my Mother and continue to learn from her is that relationships must be fostered. You can’t get a good relationship without out knowing what kind of one you want and then working for it. We do that constantly just by listening to each other and always making sure that we let the other know how much we love and appreciate them.
So, let’s look at a few Mothers and what lesson we might learn from them.
We really need to look at the first mother, biblically; Eve: She was the mother of firsts. She was the first to bear a child. She was the first to ever go through childbirth. She would be the first to endure the chores of being a mother. • She would have likely had the privilege to witness the first smile of a baby, the first baby laugh, the first word, the first steps and the first questions of a child. • She was the first nurturer of children. Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. Sadly, she was the first to bury a child. • She was a mother of firsts in many ways. Her lesson may be to always be prepared for the unexpected. I’m sure she didn’t have a child birthing class that taught her the Lamaze method of breathing. There were no books on raising children and certainly none on handling the grief of losing a child, especially at the hands of a sibling. Definitely lessons in strength and moving forward. Probably many more too.
Next I choose Mary, the mother of Jesus. According to the Bible, she was chosen by God to have the baby and name him Jesus. Most likely, she was just a teenager, she would have had to endure the ridicule of being seen as a fornicator upon becoming pregnant prior to her marriage to Joseph. Yet she willingly felt it worthy for such a task, “‘may it be done to me according to your word.” She internalized moments of Jesus’ life, treasuring all the things that happened. She followed his ministry and was there for his first miracle, the water to wine, and for his death.
She took a great interest in her Son, just like any mother should do. She was just a normal simple woman that loved God and was blessed to be Jesus’ earthly mom. She handled the ridicule of Jesus being rejected in his home town, showing strength there that she would need later at the cross.
These two women were probably easy choices, so here may be a few that are not immediate choices.
How about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, born Joan Ruth Bader; March 15, 1933 is currently an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993. She was the second female justice to be confirmed to the Court (after Sandra Day O’Connor) She was a wife and mother before starting law school at Harvard, where she was one of the few women in her law school class. She transferred to Columbia Law School where she graduated tied for first in her class.
Following law school, she was a professor at Rutgers School of Law–Newark and Columbia Law School, teaching civil procedure. Ginsburg spent a considerable portion of her legal career as an advocate for the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights, winning multiple victories arguing before the Supreme Court. She was a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Here is a woman who walked her talk early on and set an example for woman to stand up for what they believe in. She was smart and stood strong amongst her male colleagues. And I personally am proud she is on the highest court of our country.
And there are many women who do this very same thing.
I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Michelle Obama, former first Lady. She, too, practiced what she peached. She became a fashion icon, a role model for women, and an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating while First Lady. And as a Mother with two growing daughters in the White House, she certainly seemed to be doing a great job raising them under the extreme circumstances of such a situation. According to her biographer, she went on to prove that she concluded she could be “both brilliant and black.”
And any Mother who has to also handle the duties of the White House as well as being a Mother deserves credit. It is a difficult enough job raising children without National scrutiny.
So, two women who walked their talk, who set a great example for the younger generation of what can be done when we set our sights to our goals and work for them.
While considering this topic, I found it interesting and sometimes, not surprising, the names of Mothers considered famous. Some of the fictional ‘mothers’ were Marge Simpson. I do not know a lot about the Simpsons, but from what little understanding of the show I do have, I can understand Marge Simpson would be considered an icon simply for putting up with Homer!
Another TV Mother mentioned was Edith Bunker. Many of you, I think, will recall her character on the TV show, “All in the Family”. Again, a Mother and wife adjusting to life with a, let’s say, difficult husband and adding a married son and daughter-in-law living with them.
These TV shows show us women who were surviving in their circumstances, even being their own person against an unsupportive spouse. It shows strength and perseverance. And maybe loyalty too.
And here’s a favorite of mine from the world of literature, Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series. Molly Weasley was the Mother to 7 Weasleys. She and her husband Arthur were prominent in the Harry Potter books as surrogate, loving parents for the orphan Harry. Harry looked to the Weasley’s for comfort and support because he was certainly not getting it from his Aunt, Uncle and cousin.
Molly Weasley was noted as saying Harry was as good as one of her sons. She was fiercely protective of her children and unfailingly generous, especially to Harry. And she survived two Wizard Wars and is famous for ending the life of Death-eater, Bellatrix Lestrange.
I’m sure there are many other Mother’s in literature and TV and movies who will make my list and make yours too. Think of the favorite shows and movies you have and where there any nurturing characters in them? Take the time to look at the characters and what resonated with you. You may be surprised to find some characteristics that are also in you….
I HONOR THE LOVING MOTHER SPIRIT THAT NOURISHES AND SUSTAINS MANKIND.
THERE is a mother spirit at the very heart of our universe. Even as we think of God we think in terms of Father -Mother God. This mother principle is that which nourishes, sustains, feeds, tends, and holds together. On this day, which we are dedicating to all mothers everywhere, let us remember that we are honoring the mother spirit that is such an important part of this world in which we live. Let our first thoughts be of our physical mothers; then let our thoughts reach out to all those who have mothered us throughout our lives. In some cases, our mothering has come through a father; in other cases, our mothering has come through some dedicated person a teacher, nurse, or friend. Let our thoughts today be thoughts of gratitude for this wonderful mother -love, which has nourished and sustained us. This mother -love is an expression of God’s love, which now we are able to give back in some measure through our mothering of those who need our love and our thoughts.
Prayer – Put feet to your prayers
One of our congregants asked that I do a Lesson on prayer. I probably would have done one anyway, seeing as this week our Nation was to celebrate National Day of Prayer, May 4th.
The National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May, designated by the United States Congress, when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation”. Each year since its inception, the president has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.
That’s easy for us to do, Unity believes in the power of prayer. Our 4th Principle is: Through affirmative prayer and meditation, we connect with God and bring out the good in our world.
The word prayer means setting your mind like a trap so you can catch the thoughts of God. It means to focus, tune in; and prepare our minds and hearts to receive God’s guidance, love, peace, and divine energy.
The purpose of affirmative prayer is not to change God, but to change us.
Five-Step Prayer Process
Prayer is connecting with God. In prayer, we create a sacred space in which we commune with God. We can use Unity’s Five-Step Prayer Process to deepen our connection with God, to heighten our awareness of God within us. To experience the power of prayer. Let’s try it: First, Relax Begin by relaxing your body and opening your mind to an awareness of God. Breathe deeply, knowing that you are in the presence of God and the presence of God is within you. Let go of your concerns and know that all is well. Now, Concentrate As you close your eyes and release any thought of the world around you, begin to think about God … about God’s presence in your life. Focus your mind on a single thought or idea or scripture that resonates with you. I use Peace. Repeat this idea over and over, lets do it silently, since we are more than one until it becomes your only thought. Now Meditate Allow this focused state of mind to move you into a deeper awareness of God. “Be still … and know that I am God.” Be still as you connect with this divine presence within you. Realize From the depth of your being, know that you are one with God. This knowing, this realization as you experience God’s holy presence is “silent soul communion.” In this receptive state of mind and heart, listen for the inspiration of God, the answers to your prayers. Give Thanks; as you’re ready to come back to this place and time, Let gratitude be your heart’s joyous response to this experience of communion with God and with God’s infinite goodness. Give thanks for blessings to come, ready to receive your good.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.—1 Thessalonians 5:18
Nice, wasn’t it?
But there’s another step in our connection with God…Unity’s Principle #5: Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them.
“Spirituality must be lived, not just studied. All the books in the world will not help us if we do not live what we learn.”
And that is where putting feet to our prayers comes in…we must put action into our Journey…play our part, be an active partner in the connection.
Following a naval battle between Athens and Sparta during the Peloponnesian War, many ships were sinking and hundreds of sailors where floundering in the sea. One man was praying loudly to the goddess Athena to save him, but he was obviously drowning.
A shipmate, clinging to a nearby piece of wreckage, saw his plight and shouted, “Pray to Athena, but move your arms at the same time!”
See, the action part isn’t really that hard. While researching for this Lesson, I found many sayings from many Masters letting us know ways we can put feet to our prayers.
Here’s one from Lao Tzu: “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
We have the power to choose the thoughts that define the activities of our life.
This says a lot about our self-responsibility. Something I personally have been working on with my Coaches.
Here’s another: “Choices, Chances, Changes. You must make a Choice to take a Chance or your life will never Change.”
What are these messages telling us?
Remember that part of our opening Affirmation..’when we choose that which is ours to do”…
We get to choose..that’s the free will part of God’s gift to us.
Here’s another thought from Elizabeth Gilbert: “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way your select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.’
In 1 Theolagians 5:17 we are told to “pray without ceasing.” Every thought is a prayer. Every thought we put into the ethers is ‘heard.’ It’s filled with energy.
Everything is energy. Your thought begins it, your emotion amplifies it and your action increases the momentum.
Metaphysicians believe that thoughts transmit magnetic energy and this energy attracts other energy of the same frequency. Whether you are conscious of it or not, your thoughts are transmitting energy that is attracting more of the same. When you remain focused on your intentions, you will draw those things into your life.
So, you understand why we say to ‘watch your thoughts.’ And this is why we work to be more aware, more awakened. So we are aware of our thoughts and become more conscious, so our unconscious thoughts are more Spiritual, more positive. The positive thoughts become automatic, eliminating any negative ones.
This consciousness is what Matthew 21:22 is all about: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
So, if we are praying and do not feel as if the prayer in being answered, we must ask if WE are doing our part?
What does that mean? Are we putting feet to our prayers? Are we doing the work to clear out the past hurts that we carry? Do we forgive – ourselves as well as others? 70 times 7? Have we asked the tough questions of ourselves? As Dr. Phil says, “being brutally honest”.
Rosemary Ellen Guiley, author of Prayer Works, states that affirmative prayer “sets into motion the forces that enable us to manifest what we pray for.”
She adds, “Prayer is ineffective when it is accompanied or followed by negative thinking, or the endless repeating of affirmations. We have to put power and intensity into our thought, change our thought, and believe in the guidance we are receiving. If we spend energy on negative beliefs and feelings, we will get negative results, even if we and others pray daily for us. For example, if you pray for a job and then complain to others that you have no job or can’t find one, you are undermining your prayer.”
We can ask ourselves…
1) What am I not giving?
2) Who am I not forgiving?
3) What gift am I failing to receive?
It’s hard. And it takes time. And sometimes it takes work with other trained coaches and teachers.
Keep in mind Spiritual time is not necessarily mortal time. Prayers are answered, but sometimes not in the way we thought they would come to us and often not in the timeline we were thinking too.
Here’s a story from Samuel Smith all about the Spiritual timeline:
My wife, Laurel, and I were remodeling a building for our new book-printing business. We needed an additional $5,000. In prayer, I asked for guidance and affirmed God would provide the money at the right and perfect time.
A few days later, we had a torrential rain. I heard a tremendous crash and thought lightning had struck a tree. When the storm passed, I walked outside and discovered that an unneeded aluminum structure attached to our building had collapsed. Three days later, our insurance agent handed me a check for $5,300—and my brother, who was building a shed for his boat—hauled off the scrap metal.
By the time our shop was up and running—with employees and a weekly payroll—prayer was still at the center of operations. It occurred to me that more commercial printing jobs would help cash flow as we acquired book-printing customers. I asked God to show me where this business would come from—if this were, in fact, the divine solution.
The next morning a friend called with surprising news about another printer. He said, “Jerry’s shop got hit by lightning last night and burned to the ground.” I was shocked. “I am sorry to hear that,” I said.
My friend replied, “Well, he’s not too upset, because he is ready to retire. He’s looking for someone to take over his commercial accounts.”
I drove out to meet Jerry at the charred remains of his shop. I could see where lightning had hit a tree and jumped to the corner of his building. He didn’t want any cash, only a percentage of sales from his accounts for two years, which proved to be a mutually beneficial arrangement.
These experiences taught me prayer is not only for times when we find ourselves wounded or broken; it is also a practical skill for everyday life. Your answers may not come in lightning bolts, but during every stormy challenge or sunny opportunity, prayer can renew your mind and transform your world.”
So, we just do not know what Spirit has in store for us….just look a me!
So when it gets hard or seems to not be working, keep working. There’s a Sufi saying: “There are two rules on the Spiritual Path: Begin and Continue.”
And you have friends and family here to aid and support you.
When everything seems to go wrong, just P.U.S.H.!
When the job gets you down, just P.U.S.H.!
When your money is tight and the bills are due, just P.U.S.H.!
When you’re afraid and want to cry, just P.U.S.H!
P.U.S.H! P.U.S.H! P.U.S.H!
P.U.S.H = Pray Until Something Happens!!!!!