Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring's eternal awakening.

    The first hint of spring has arrived in North Carolina and with it comes the renewal of little league baseball when young boys drift off into dreams of going deep in the whole at short, backhanding a ground ball and gunning down that swift footed lead-off hitter zipping down the first baseline .......or visions of game-winning home runs drilled on a rope to dead centerfield off the flagpole!
But a vision of this magnitude can only come into reality if Dad, (that would be me), will  spring for a new bat for one future Oriole shortstop. (that would be son Sam). Of course not just any bat will do to achieve Southwest Forsyth Little League hall of fame status. It must be none other than the Easton Brigade BBCOR S-1 fully composite (handle and barrel) with a drop of -13, measuring 32-19, this is the quintessential work of baseball batting beauty. Oh believe me, the less expensive XL1, 2, or 3 will not do, nor will the S2 or S3 be suitable. No, these are simply wanna be half composite or fully aluminum, garishly yellow, mutant sticks with grotesque extra long barrels. It is only the thoroughbred Easton S-1 that could ever be worthy of becoming Sam's precious. C'mon now, these are just the basics a Dad must know prior to the start of any season.
    Playing out in our home has been a remake of the movie, "A Christmas Story". Just substitute "Red Rider BB gun" with "Easton brigade", set the scene at Easter instead of Christmas and settle in with some popcorn, the movie has just begun. (an aside, there is no substitute for Dad's "fraj-ee-lay" leg lamp prominently displayed in the front window, still a thing of beauty if you ask me.)
    This script has taken me back to my own sweet days of little league when real boys used Louisville slugger all wood bats. We got them at Woolworth's for $5.49 after saving our 25 cent allowance for weeks. Of course, they cracked if you hit them on the handle, a frequent little league occurance, so we always had a wide assortment of various colored duct taped bats lined up vying for our next at bat. Oh, the simpler days........but then I got to thinking how my Dad of the WWII, depression era probably looked at all our "expensive" bats back then and relived his cherished days of playing stick ball in the streets of Wilson Township, Pa., when real kids grabbed the broom their Mom had just discarded and fashioned that broomstick into the best bat a kid could ever have. They didn't need any organized league either.
     And so it seems the earthly tools that produce our sweet boyhood memories change from father to son, but the memories themselves remain essentially the same among us all. Young Sam's obsession with the "wonder bat" pales only in comparison to my own laser-like focus on the worldly items I myopically believe are required to awaken me to the knowledge of who I am in my Father's kingdom. It is, oh, so easy here in the imperfect of time and space to become infatuated with the objects that merely point us to a greater spiritual relationship. There is a Buddhist saying that speaks of making sure you never mistake the finger pointing to the moon for the moon.
    Likewise I would do well not to make sacred those things that simply point me to a deeper understanding of the kingdom of heaven and my Father's love for me..... Scripture, other ancient writings, books, family, friends, church, art, a Vivaldi violin concerto, a meaningful Mumford and Sons lyric, a great run on a Saturday morning are really only fingers pointing to the sweet understanding that I am indeed a spark of the divine, awakened and born of spirit, deeply loved, cherished, and most importantly one for whom the bridal price has been paid. The knowledge that I am spoken for produces in me an eternal springtime as I prepare for that ineffable summer wedding day!
     Now then...let's get to playing ball and life, with a childlike joy and just maybe a new bat too.

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