CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter
Today is Helen’s birthday. I will give her a special gift. I shall not talk about baseball the whole day, nor shall I turn on the MLB channel in hope of catching a Reds spring training game, even with the sound off.
I have not always been this sensitive. For our honeymoon I took her to a Reds double-header against the Pirates in Crosley Field in Cincinnati. I didn’t have much [i.e, any] money, just enough for baseball tickets, so we spent the night on a pullout bed in Grandma Mac’s living room. It was a good doubleheader. We saw Willie “Puddinhead” Jones of the Reds hit a home run to give the Pirates’ Elroy Face his only loss of the year. [Talk about losing face.]
Helen did not like baseball because as a child her mother listened to Cubs games on the radio instead of paying attention to her. She was an only child for her first ten years, and her father, whom she adored and who took her fishing and let her drive the Hupmobile when she was only five and let her drive the big Hudson to high school, where she was thus known as “Hot Rod,” was gone all week for his job. Helen resented her only playmate giving so much attention to a bunch of losers like the Cubs when she could have been reading to her.
Over the years she has learned to tolerate baseball, at least to enjoying the log-rolling bears in the Hamm’s beer commercials between innings.
In our winter years, though, this is a dangerous time for our relationship. We’ve been stuck in the house for a long time, because there is a lot of snow and below-zero outdoors. It’s spring training time, and I want baseball, and my only potential playmate doesn’t care if Joey Votto will widen his strike zone this year in order to hit more home runs.
Fittingly for Lent, today I shall give up something I love for the woman I love. Whether I grow spiritually, in the way Lenten fasts are meant, remains to be seen.
John Robert McFarland
The “place of winter” mentioned above is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where life is defined by winter even in the summer.