CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©
I’m humming “Take me out to the ballgame” as I start the coffee long before first light. Helen and I are going to The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati today, to see the Reds lose to the Dodgers. We don’t want to see the Reds lose, but that’s the way their season is going, so it’s a fairly safe prediction.
This will be our first time at GAB. We have been to Crosley Field and Riverfront Stadium, the predecessor ballparks of the Reds, numerous times, including for our honeymoon. For a long time, though, we have lived in heathen places, where they cheer for teams like the Cubs and White Sox and Brewers and Twins and Indians. We have gone to the temples of false bravado where those teams play, though, when the Reds were in town. We have even taken our grandchildren there, for it is important, especially in strange and foreign lands, to help your grandchildren learn about the game.
I think about the times we took our children and grandchildren to the games, sometimes returning to the home of Aunt Gertrude and Uncle Randall for a delightful midnight meal, sometimes driving late into the night to get home.
As I think back on those times at the ballpark, I can’t remember who won any of those games. I do remember being there with people I love, and a strange mixture of joy and loss hovers around me.
Those days are no more. Helen and I will go to the ballpark alone and return home alone. Uncle Randall is enshrined in memory, and Aunt Gertrude confined to the TV. The children and grandchildren are grown up, with their own bases to run, their own teams to cheer. I can’t take them to the game anymore, explain why the pitcher is covering first base, buy them a hotdog and a cup of ice cream.
So I pray for them. That’s all I can do for them now.
Prayer is not so much about getting something from God as it is about getting something from me, an admission that I am not in charge, even of those I love most, perhaps especially those I love most. In old age we are forced to rely not on our strength but on God’s strength.
Prayers creates communion, with God and with those we love, even if they are far away.
The longer I live, and thus the more I pray, the less I understand about prayer. I know it can’t be summed up on a page like this one. I am sure, though, that as we remember sharing the game with our loved ones, that is an opportunity for the prayer that unites us within the love of God,
John Robert McFarland
I started this blog several years ago, when we followed the grandchildren to the “place of winter,” Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP]. I put that in the sub-title, Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] The grandchildren, though, are grown up, so in May, 2015 we moved “home,” to Bloomington, IN, where we met and married. It’s not a “place of winter,” but we are still in winter years of the life cycle, so I am still trying to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter…
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