Wednesday, February 28, 2007

We Interrupt this Silence with a Forrest Gump Update 

My brother chided me that if last Monday's game didn't make the blog (frankly, it might ought to have made the papers) he would do something dire. So, this is not a return to blogging for me right now, just an intermission between silences.

On Monday we were scheduled to play the best team in the league (nope, it's not us this season...yet), Crabby Patty's. They were undefeated in their six games and had scored an insane amount of runs. By the time the game is set to start we are down two females, meaning we can only play 7 guys in the field/lineup and we take an automatic out at the end of our batting order. So, we start the game handicapped. In the first inning we manage to score 5 runs, and we tell ourselves in the dugout, we just gotta stay on top of them. No defensive errors, and we can't let them get ahead. The replied with two runs in their first inning.

It immediately became clear to us that this was a superior team and that they had a strategy on how to win. In the entire game they only hit one ball to left field (where theoretically one of the best defensive players would be put). They all had the ability to place the ball; their men only swung half strength and they marched around the bases on solid line drives to the outfield, right over the infielders heads and dropping for base hits. But we managed to hold them off, playing shallow in the outfield and foiling their plot. We stayed ahead of them for a long time. The game continued like this until the second to last inning.

In the bottom of the second to last inning, the score was 12-8 in favor of them and time was running off the clock like it was going out of style. We barely manage to have enough time to start another inning. Top of our order. Mike gets a single. I get a double, sliding into second without regard for the defensive player. Allison get a single. Mike scores, I'm on third, Allison is on first. Brennan comes up to the plate. He swings, sweet sound, ball carries, homerun!!! Gump is up 13-12 with Brennan's first homerun ever!

We hold then off in the bottom of the 9th (so to speak) and come home to squeak by with a victory, handicapped and all! It was awesome!

(And the youth group was there to support us - thanks guys!)


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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday 

I have been told from multiple sources, as if I were not aware, that I've been seriously slacking on the blog lately. It is true, I have been. It is also strangely comforting to know that people actually miss it.

I've been very busy recently, and there is a lot going on in my life right now. Nothing bad (so don't worry) just a lot of stuff. So, I've felt the need to take a break from blogging for a while.

I am still feeling that need and I cannot tell you how long it will last. I hope not all of Lent, but perhaps.

I did feel I owed you, the faithful reader, a brief note however.

God bless, and may you keep a holy Lent.


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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Further Update 

Close to the end of the work day, the young lady herself called me. She was surprisingly chipper on the phone and very kind. She explained to me that the collision had resulted in her breaking her fibula, the smaller of the two lower leg bones, and likely spraining the ankle. She is going to see an orthopedist, who happens to be the orthopedic surgeon for the Devil Rays, so I'm sure he's experienced with this kind of injury. But, it'll put her in a cast and keep her off her feet for a while. She wanted to make sure I knew she had no ill will or hard feelings and sincerely hoped I didn't feel too bad, even as she acknowledged she should have made the play on the bag and not gone for the tag.. So, that actually brought me a lot of solace. We talked for a little bit and I thanked her for calling, that it helped me rest easier. She will still be receiving a large bouquet tomorrow, though.


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Shaken Up this Morning 

In last night's softball game, the first game of a double header, something bad happened. It was the bottom of the first, and I was on first base with a single. The next batter hit a ground ball to third and I knew they were going to throw to second so I was off like a shot. I knew also it was going to be a very close play with slim chance of me being safe. So, I did what anyone would have done, I got down and slid. Everything else happened really fast. With my right leg extended and the full force of all my weight behind it my cleted foot struck not a hard base, but something soft and malleable with a sickening crunch sound. The second base woman went down hard and began to scream in a way that I have never heard before. It was bad. EMS was called and she was carted off on a stretcher, with a morphine drip going. They didn't know if her ankle was broken, dislocated, or severely sprained, but it looked pretty torn up and wrong whatever it was. I felt terrible last night and still am shaken up this morning. I was mentally out of the second game and could not do anything offensively.

So, Sio, if you still read this, you're no longer the only purple heart winner from playing softball with me.

The umpire did pull me aside as the people were working on the injured one to say that I did everything right and did exactly what I should have done. That it was not my fault. It was a force out at second and she should have caught the ball tagged the base and moved. But instead she caught the ball, stood directly in the base path and went for a tag out. The umpire reassured me that nothing I did was wrong, illegal, or unneccesarily rough or anything like that. He said it was just that in a rec league, people of all skill levels play and sometimes they don't know what they're doing or cannot think quickly or sometimes, even good players make bad choices, or just plain get hurt in a freak accident. My teammates were good about calming me down too, so thanks guys. Brennan reasured me too, re-telling me the story of the time he broke a guy's arm with a pitch. I've contacted the captain of the other team in an effort to get the young lady's address to send flowers. Sports can be rough, still, even with all the reassurance that it was not my fault, I feel like feces.


[Update: The president of Club Sport just called me to say that the young lady had just called her in an effort to get my number, but the same policy of non-disclosure applied to her as to me. The message that she wanted to relay was that she did, in fact, break her leg, but that she bears no ill will or hard feelings towards me. She said that it occured in the spirit of fun and hard play and that sometimes that happens. She also wanted to apologize for flipping me the bird from the stretcher (which I did not take personally). So, it was good for me to hear the result, even though said result sucks big time, and that she was not mad at me. I feel a little better about it now.]

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Where is God Found? "The Cross" at William and Mary 

A participant in our adult Sunday School class recently called to our attention this story about the recent removal of the 18" brass cross of Wren Chapel of the college of William and Mary. I genrally try to keep debates about issues in the news off this site, but this story got me thinking and reflecting on my own college religious experiences, and, more importantly, the question of where God is to be found.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, the basics are these: since 1940 or so, the cross in question has resided atop the table (which is used as an altar) at the head of the Wren Chapel at the College of William and Mary. Until recently, a policy was in place that the cross could be removed upon request, in an effort to make the chapel a more accessible sacred space for non-Christians. College President, Gene Nichol, recently had the cross removed from the chapel and revised the policy to say that the cross could be returned upon request. The debate thusly exploded, pretty much along the fault lines you would imagine.

Now, on the one hand I understand the arguments of those people who are upset and calling for the cross to be returned. The chapel was established as a place of Christian worship and consequently, features Christian symbols. To remove the cross removes a primary way through which worshippers experience God, and, if their religious identity is tied strongly to that place of worship, that may signify to them something greater than simply the removal of an 18" piece of brass.

On the other hand, I understand the objections of those who were made to feel uncomfortable by the cross' presence. A Jewish student was interviewed in the above linked story, stating he felt uncomfortable when they were directed to the chapel for freshman orientation. As a public school, religion (and subsequently its symbolism) should not be forced, in a major or minor way, on any student. (At the same time, on the 'opposing thumb' of this hand, I suspect that were I to go study at a traditionally Jewish-though-now-public Israeli university, no such concessions would be made to make me feel "more comfortable.")

On still another hand (or perhaps the first foot?), I conspiratorially wonder if this is really all about money couched in religiosity. By making a "sacred space" comfortable for people of all faiths (and getting themselves prominently displayed in the news), are the big-wigs of William and Mary thinking they'll get more enrollment from students of non-Christian backgrounds, thereby fulfilling the all important diversity requirements of our day and age?

Finally, on the second foot, I am trying to puzzle out what all this says about where God is to be found, and the importance of Christian symbolism. When I was a college freshman, I participated in a poetry group/drum circle (isn't that a college requirement most places?) and made some friends there who were decidedly not Christian. They were however, curious about the silver cross I wore about my neck. One night, one of them asked me about it, saying, "Why do you wear that cross?" I thought carefully and then responded, "Because it is a sign to the outside of who I am inside, and it is important to me to let people know about who I am inside." He accepted this as a answer, and as I write it out now, I am aware of how close it is to the phrase "outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." I also wore it because my Grandmother had gotten it for me and my priest had blessed it. Now that I am an ordained priest, I don't wear it as often, even under my shirt, because the outward sign has now become the clerical collar. I thought about this the other day and wondered if I should still wear it as a sign to myself, but decided I didn't need such a sign. When I dress in my "regular clothes," if I want to wear a necklace, I generally will wear it or another cross necklace I have.

To me God is not found exclusively in the cross, or to put it another way, were a cross not present I would not be prohibited from worship. Theologically speaking, God is off the cross, having already "made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world." God is found in all the world, in each of us, and in the love we bear for one another. God is found on his throne in heaven and on his throne in our hearts. God found in our worship and in our grief. God is found in the poor, in the hungry, in the grief stricken and in the hated. And God is found in the rich, the full, the happy, and the beloved. God cannot be contained.

When we worshipped in college, we worshipped in a little place on campus called Davis Chapel, that sat about 100 people or so comfortably. There was no cross or other symbols of any religion to be seen. But, in the little sacristy off to the side, a small cross was to be found, along with candles, wafers, wine, chalices, patens, and prayer books and hymnals. Furthermore, if you opened up the doors of the alcove above the altar, a seasonally appropriate Christian symbol was to be found. When we came to worship, those of us with sacristan duties came early and set the cross out along with the other liturgical hardware. Doing so was, for us, a part of our worship. When we finished our worship, we cleaned up after ourselves, closed the alcove doors, and put things away, before going to dinner with one another, where we continued our acts of communion.

All of this is to say that our worship of God cannot be limited by the presence or absence of symbols unless we let it. If the cross is important to you in worship, as it is to me, bring it with you in some form or another. We at St. Mark's are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new Christus Rex for our worship space. We live in a religiously free society, founded on Christian principles, and praise God for it, so you are free to wear a crucifix necklace, carry a rosary or icon, perform the signification of the cross on yourself, or bring an 18" brass cross into the worship space with you. And by God, carry your worship with you when you leave so that others may see Christ reflected in you by whatever means God has given you. For, me, more often than not now, that is by the collar I wear around my neck and the words I speak personally and corporately. For you, it may be something different. If the removal of such a symbol helps others encounter God in a real and living way, God bless them. If for you, the presence of that same symbol helps you encounter God in a real and living way, God bless you. As Jesus said, after telling the story of the Good Samaritan, "Go and do likewise."


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