Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”
2 Thessalonians 2:14-15 (ESV)
Well here we are again—cooler weather and all—entering into one of the great classical traditions in all of sports.
It’s World Series time, where a lifetime of memories are made for baseball fans—younger and older and like you and me.
The World Series, beginning again tomorrow, when the Chicago Cubs, National League Champions for the first time in seventy-one years, will host the American League Champion, the Cleveland Indians. It will be a time for many of us, of remembering, reflecting upon and comparing similar moments in the past, of every pitch, every at bat and hit, every agonizing strikeout in a crucial moment, and every unbelievable game-saving play coming from out of nowhere.
It’s a time where memories of past special moments from generations older to younger, and in-between, are recalled, shared and enjoyed once again, while waiting for new ones to be added to the pages of our lives. Where the expected often gives way to the unexpected, and where often the least likely of the participants rise to an occasion to lift one team or the other to victory. It’s a time of mountaintops and valleys beyond compare, in the short space of a few days.
The most meaningful relationships in life are a lot like that—filled with exhilaratingly glorious mountaintop highs, and disappointing and dusty valley lows. Excitement mixed with a measure of heartache. Memories forever etched on the fields of fulfilled and unfulfilled dreams, of “home runs” and even “strikeouts” in life.
Whether waking or sleeping, we cling to and cherish those moments of our lives, those traditions and values established through the years of our journey together. It’s life at its best—embracing the traditions and memories of the past—while looking forward to the very best of opportunities in the future.
There is purity somewhere in all of those moments, and in every thread of every relationship.
And some of you may remember one such pure moment I have shared before which started in 1967, a few months after my bride, Lynda, and I were married.
The month was October and the Boston Red Sox were set to square off against Bob Gibson and the powerful St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Our wedding was in June, and we enjoyed our brief honeymoon with a four day trip along US Highway 17 up the eastern coast of the United States from Florida back to Dover, Delaware. As a member of the United States Air Force, Dover Air Force Base was, as it would turn out, our assignment for the first two years of our marriage.
As the hour drew near for the first pitch of the opening game, my supervisor at the Air Force base radar shop could sense that my attention was elsewhere, rather than where it should have been on fixing the electronic navigational equipment for our military aircraft. Graciously, and probably for the safety of our aircraft and flight crews, he allowed me to go home to watch the afternoon game on television.
As I was driving off the base, I stopped at the Base Exchange (grocery) and bought a six-pack of Hamm’s beer (this was during a period in my life before I gave up drinking alcohol entirely a number of years after that). The cost of the six-pack was eighty-five cents, which, believe it or not, our limited budget could ill afford for me to spend.
The guilt of spending that money began immediately as I was leaving the exchange, and continued to build as I drove home. And so when a florist shop came into view as I was driving, I stopped and bought two yellow roses. The florist put them into a field of little white flowers called “baby’s breath”, and then wrapped the entire arrangement tenderly in green tissue paper and a yellow ribbon.
One dollar more.
But now feeling better about my earlier purchase, I headed home with my one-dollar bribe in hand. Lynda met me at the door and beamed at the sight of the two yellow roses which I pushed out toward her with the words “Happy World Series!” She never said a word about the brown paper bag hanging from my other hand.
The Red Sox lost game one to Bob Gibson’s record setting performance of seventeen strikeouts, and eventually lost the World Series. But the tradition of the yellow roses—now I usually give her a dozen—given on the first day of every World Series, has continued without blemish for forty-eight years—and tomorrow will be forty-nine—despite its less-than-noble beginning.
It was an unintended and slightly selfish beginning to a wonderful tradition which now undergirds a much higher message. It has become an annual symbol for me of the renewal of a lifetime commitment to my bride—who was and remains a precious gift from God. And each year, no matter what is going on in our lives at the time, it is a moment and reminder of our love and sacrifice to an ideal higher than self, higher than things and—believe it or not—higher than baseball.
Traditions, no matter their beginnings, are often a reminder of the simple purity and value of those important things and people in life. Is there a tradition you had that needs to be renewed? Do you have one you need to make sure stays lit? Is there one you should start?
Traditions which reflect God’s grace, cherished and nurtured, move us toward and remind us and others, of a higher, more majestic view of life, of the special people in our life, and of the dreams for our lives which God has placed within our hearts.
Traditions, aligned with God’s grace, build memories and lives and relationships.
Happy World Series once again to my precious bride!
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2016. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.