Ministers Column May 2011

Dear Ones:

I hope and trust you are enjoying this spring after such a long, snowy winter. In the midst of writing sermons, preparing for Easter, working on various social justice initiatives, conducting pastoral visits and at­tending many, many UUS:E meetings, I am doing something new this spring. I am coaching Mason’s Little League baseball team! Part of me is asking, what was I thinking when I said yes to this? Glastonbury Little League teams have three practices per week (including Sundays!). Really, what was I thinking? I don’t have time for this. 

But another part of me knows what I was thinking. When I was in third grade, my father signed me and my twin brother up to play Little League. We didn’t want to, but he made us. His father had done the same thing to him in Baltimore in the early 1950s. My father had loved it then, and once we started playing in the mid-1970s, we loved it too. Well, my nine-year-old, Mason, didn’t want to play either. But now that practices have begun he seems to be loving it too. And so am I. I haven’t been around baseball for thirty years, but the game is coming back to me. I’ve been pitching batting practice twice a week for an hour at a time. My arm is chronically sore, but it’s a sweet soreness. And there’s more sweetness: the feel of the baseball in my hand, the smell of the infield dirt, the sound of the bat connecting solidly with the ball. 

What I love about Little League (and I suppose this is true with most kids’ sports) is that kids learn both physical and mental skills. And they develop individual skills and coordination as well as collective, team skills. There are parallels with our spiritual lives. As I’ve said many times, the well-lived spiritual life is a full life, a whole life. It requires attention to the body as well as the mind. And it requires individual searching and practice as well as collective engagement (in worship, social justice activism, service work, committee in­volvement, etc.).  I’m not suggesting just that baseball (or any sport) is a good metaphor for the spiritual life. More than that, I’m recognizing an inherent spirituality in baseball itself.   

And perhaps what I enjoy most is that Mason and I have an activity we are invested in together. We each have a role on the team. We each have a responsibility to the team. It’s a nice way to connect, father and son. It’s a nice way to grow together. I confess I worry from time to time that with a minister’s odd schedule I will not have the opportunity to do things with my children that most parents get to do. Well, this spring I am testing that, and so far it is working. For now I’m glad. Check with me in June to see how well I’ve survived this new spring activity!

With love, 

Rev. Josh