7 Quick Takes Friday - Spring Training
So, having been raised in a family that wasn't in to this sort of thing, I only recently started paying attention to things like "spring training." That's right...I married into a family of HUGE baseball fans. (As in they are huge fans of baseball...not huge people.) We won't dwell too long on the team they root for since we're currently living in enemy territory, but suffice it to say...spring training is, evidently, a BIG deal!
In fact, it's such a big deal that even Sister Stinky is gearing up for it...
Yes, that bat is just her size. Why do I have this sneaking suspicion that I'm going to end up with a daughter who has an equal love of dolls AND tee ball? At least, if the Abbot and his brothers have anything to say about it...
The other day, though, I was thinking about how interesting it is that spring training falls when it does...smack dab in the middle of Lent. Coincidence? (Well, probably, unless someone can convince me that MLB is secretly run by a bunch of Carmelite cloistered monks or something...which, let's face it, is too awesome to even begin to fathom, so we won't go there...)
Watching the news each morning I've been amazed by how pumped this baseball players are for spring training! The other day, the news reporter was saying that one of the players woke up at 3 or 4 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep because he was so excited to start spring training. That's INTENSE! I wasn't that excited at 3 or 4 a.m. on my wedding day...heck, not even on Holy Saturday when I knew the Easter Vigil was going to be THAT VERY NIGHT!! (I have a mild obsession with all things Holy Week. Get ready.) Anyway, I'm just glad that Sister Stinky didn't have the same problem that morning...she at least waited until 6 a.m. to get her day started!
So, I got to thinking...what if we took Lent that seriously? I mean, we're talking not just talking about baseball (as awesome as baseball is)...we're talking about an ancient battle against good and evil! I was put in mind of this when I was reading the Liturgy of the Hours the other day, and Paul writes, "Athletes deny themselves all sorts of things. They do this to win a crown of leaves that withers, but we a crown that is imperishable." (See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Am I dedicated enough to wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. to pray? I wish I could say yes. If I were to wake up and pray at that early of an hour I wouldn't be in the happiest mood about it. But what if I woke up at 3 or 4 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep because...I knew I was going to be receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist later that morning? What if I woke up so excited that I couldn't wipe the grin off my face and was just pumped to hit the road and get to Mass?
Point being, I think Paul's right...we really have something to learn from these athletes. Lent is our spring training time - a time to renew our love and devotion to God and our faith. It's a time to willing do things that may be painful because we know that it will train our bodies, minds, and hearts for the battle that is to come. On Ash Wednesday, in the First Reading at Mass, we heard that it is important that when we fast we do so with a smile on our face, mousse in our hair, and deodorant on (I paraphrase a bit, but that's the gist). What if the players all showed up to spring training grumbling and miserable? Can you imagine reporters interviewing a baseball player before spring training and hearing him say, "Ugh...I just hate this time of year. It's so hard. I know I'm going to be so sore." No! Instead we hear things like, "I'm just so excited for spring training! This is going to be a great season!"
I'm just saying...I think we need to take a tip from these guys. Especially these guys. Because, they know what they're talking about!
This day wouldn't be complete without a HUGE shout-out to my beautiful mother who was born on this day. Happy Birthday, Mom! The world is so blessed with your presence.