Thursday, June 07, 2007

Softball Spirituality

Sometimes God speaks to us in a still, small voice, and sometimes he/she slams us in the nose with a softball. I really don't think it's that hard to get my attention, but apparently I needed something a bit more firm than the "still, small voice" this week to grab my focus and slow me down.

I was already sheduled on Tuesday to have my left wrist operated on to relieve my carpal tunnel syndrome (or as a woman in my dad's church called it, "carnal tunnel"). So I was eager to play the first, and possibly only, game of the season with the faculty softball team on the Sunday preceding my "carnal correction." The Frau kept advising me not to play - just go and support - so as not to risk further damage to my wrist. Being the first-born know-it-all that I am, I saw no problem with playing, and vowed that I would take it easy. We got there early, and I started throwing the ball with some other early arrivers. . . .

I have to interject here that I REALLY love playing softball, and yet I haven't played in more years than I can identify. I played a lot as a kid - with the neighborhood kids, on church teams, and then came that fateful time that I tried out for the junior high team. I had been practicing over the weekend with my other friends who were trying out, and I was the power hitter of the bunch - the one everyone moves out into the field for. I was sure I was going to make a real bona fide team. I got to the first day of try-outs, came up to bat, my friends moved back, and I choked. I couldn't make contact with the ball to save my life - not even a foul ball. Needless to say, everyone's memory got very short, and no one recalled that just two or three days before I could really play. I didn't make the team, and I was scared everytime I came to bat in future years. Funny thing was, the first year of high school, we played softball in PE, I got up to bat and smacked a long ball, and the teacher asked me why I hadn't tried out for the high school team. I thought, if she only knew . . .

So back to our present-day game . . . Here I was - 46, and finally ready to face my fear. Indeed, I was ready to spit in the face of fear; to stand in the batter's box and laugh my loud hyena laugh in fear's general direction. But the game hadn't started, yet, and I thought I should make sure I could still throw and catch the ball before I got too brazen in the batter's box. Despite the carpal tunnel, I was making some beautiful throws and very adept catches. My confidence was up. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the "coach" was ready to call us together for some pre-game instructions. I decided to catch the one last ball heading my direction, and then join the rest of the group. There is a critical point in the reception of a ball - "soft" or otherwise - when one's attention should not be diverted toward one's future actions. This is when God spoke to me. Right in the nose - cut from my sunglasses, bleeding internally and externally, never to hear the coach's first 2 rules: 1) everybody have fun, and 2) nobody gets hurt.

Now my left wrist is wrapped from surgery, my nose is swollen, and my left eye is black. I will be on the bench this week, keeping score, waiting for God to speak to me again (more subtly, I hope) about when I will finally face my fear in the batter's box. In my convalescence this week, I continue to ponder whether God's message to me is:
1) Slow down, and finish one thing before starting another (this is often the Frau's message to me).
2) Keep your eye on ball, but only figuratively.
3) You weren't meant to play softball, stupid!

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