Sunday, February 19, 2012

holy day

Perhaps more than Christmas Eve and/or Day, more than Easter, more than Pentecost, this coming Sunday is one of the holiest days of the year, in my humble opinion.  Not because it is about a strange story, not because it is about two figures from the past suddenly appearing, not because it is about God speaking and inviting us to listen to Jesus.

No, this particular Sunday is holy for me because it is the day when pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in baseball!

Now before you laugh and dismiss this thought, hear me out.

If one listens carefully to the young men who play baseball and who are invited to spring training, you find some common threads in their stories.

First, they BELIEVE that they have been given gifts, some natural skills called 'tools' in baseball (scouts/teams are always looking for the '5-tool' player), which allows them to play, to compete at the professional level.  Others may have more speed, others may have better hand-eye coordination, others may have stronger throwing arms, but they don't all believe they have what it takes to play the game.

Second, they TRUST that what others have to teach them is of value; that by listening to their coaches, by focusing on a training regimen, by being willing to change their diets and other habits, by watching how the veterans on the team conduct themselves, by focusing on how they can better themselves and thus better
the team they can achieve some goals that others players and team will not.

Third, they are willing to ACT upon what they believe and trust.  A new hitting coach may teach something completely contrary to what their first baseball coach showed them, but they will follow the new routine.  The 'best of the best' don't spend the offseason resting on the past season, but by training, improving,
focusing on getting better.  They will adopt a new diet if that improves their stamina, they will drop 20 pounds if it means a quicker step, they will share their ideas, their techniques, their learning with younger players, in hopes it will improve the team as a whole.

Believe, trust, act.

I don't know if the transfiguration 'really' happened as we are told in Mark.  It may have been Mark's interpretation of Peter's embellished description of a conversation he had one night with Jesus on a mountaintop.  But I do BELIEVE that the story is in the gospel for a reason, that it can say something to me and to others about how following Jesus just might transform my life in unexpected ways, that in
hindsight I might describe such a moment in language that just seems too good to be true.  And I do believe that I am given visions of the kingdom in everyday life.

I don't know if God spoke in a voice which Peter and the others could clearly understand.  Most of the time I am leery of folks who claim to have 'heard' God - too often, such folks end up bringing pain and heartache to others.  But I do TRUST that God does speak to us, if we are only willing to put ourselves into that attitude of openness, that awareness that God's voice is heard in the laughter of children on a playground, in the questioning doubts of an adolescent, in the stories wise ones are only too ready to share.

I don't know if what Mark tells us is an actual event, an allegory, a short story.  But I do think I am called to
ACT upon what I believe and trust in this story which is part of my faith tradition, which is in my sacred writings.  Not act to defend it against those who would challenge its 'truthfulness,' who would question its reality, who would dismiss it as some sort of delusion (I don't worry about those sorts of thing, to be honest).  But to act, if I do believe that in Jesus I catch glimpses of what God is doing in the world, that in Jesus I see someone I would like to follow the rest of my life (however that might be for me), that in Jesus I find myself on mountaintops, and in valleys, and in every place in between, but do not find myself alone
any where.  But to act, if I do trust that God is willing to tell me, if I am willing to listen, that the world can be
transformed from evil into good, even as I can be; that love is greater than hate, and that I am loved when
others tell me different; that goodness is the path which I am meant to walk, and others will help me
find the way, even as I can be a guide to others.  If I believe, if I trust, if I act, than this story does indeed
become real in the life I am called to lead; it is indeed truth that can change and continue to change me, that it is the gospel  -  good news.

And then every day becomes holy, doesn't it?

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

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