Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Saturday, March 5, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

Knowing that I loved baseball, and the Cincinnati Reds especially, and with spring training scheduled to begin, people thought they should talk baseball to me as I lay there in my bare hospital room. Any other February I would have been happy to talk baseball. But I had just found out that I was going to die. Baseball simply didn’t seem very important.

On top of that, a bunch of greedy billionaires [owners] was trying to keep a bunch of greedy millionaires [players] from playing ball at all if they kept insisting on getting a bigger share of the profit from $12 beers, or something like that. A lock-out was looming. Maybe there would be no spring training. Maybe there would be no baseball season at all.

That got my attention. Baseball was not so irrelevant after all. Baseball and I were in the same deserted dugout. We might die together. I suddenly cared. I did not want a lock-out, for baseball or for myself. I wanted a winning season. I wanted a healing season.  

I got the idea that if the season could go on, and if my team, the Reds, won, against all odds and history, since their last World Series title was in 1976, the era of The Big Red Machine of Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan and Pete Rose and Tony Perez, that I would get well.

It happened. They won their first game on opening day, and were in first place all the way through the World Series. Game by game, week by week, month by month, we went through the season together, the Reds on the field, me in the chemo room. We didn’t win every game. We had injuries and had to play through them. We sometimes missed bunt signals, sometimes failed to advance the runner. It was not a perfect season, but what a winning season! What a healing season!

When the season was over, I knew I was healed. I might not be cured, but I was healed, made whole. I did not know how long I would live, but that now was irrelevant. What mattered was the healing, and the Reds and I had played and won our healing season.

So I started to write a book, The Healing Season. It’s a good title, isn’t it, with its double meaning? I used the winning season of the Reds as the outline, week by week, month by month, noting the wins and losses and drama in Riverfront Stadium, but using those episodes to share what I had gone through in the chemo room and in my mind, and what I had learned about healing of the soul. It was a pretty good book, but it stalled. I had talked of many of the same episodes and insights in NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them. That book was appropriate for any cancer patient or “those who love them,” not just those who appreciated baseball, not just those who followed the Reds. In fact, it might even be insulting and injurious to hopeful patients who did not get winning seasons from their teams. I mean, if you could not get healed if you team did not win, Cubs fans would be extinct.

The Healing Season will never get finished, for it was lost in the great computer crash of ’03, but every spring training presents another opportunity for hope for all of us who need healing. Maybe our team will win. And if not, “take me out to the ballgame,” anyway. That’s where the action is.


I tweet as yooper1721.

NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them, is published in two editions by AndrewsMcMeel, in audio by HarperAudio, and in Czech and Japanese translations. It’s incredibly inexpensive at many sites on the web.

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