Baseball Dadisms

 
Baseball Dadisms
 

Baseball Dadisms for Father's Day

A love of baseball was something my father and I shared, and so as the baseball season shifts into high gear I always find myself missing him. I was born in Pittsburgh, and one of my earliest memories is of my father and I watching Bill Mazeroski as he hit the home run that won game seven of the 1960 World Series allowing the Pittsburgh Pirates to defeat the mighty New York Yankees.  

Given my love for baseball, it is not surprising that it was the primary sport I played in my youth. I was an aspiring pitcher, and my father served as my catcher for countless hours in the backyard. As I grew older, I could throw the ball harder, and so every few years my Dad would need to upgrade the quality of his catcher's mitt to include a little more padding. The countless bruises on his shins (usually from wild curve balls into the dirt) and even a small fracture to a bone in his hand (from an especially hard-thrown fastball) were evidence of how faithful he was in supporting my development as a pitcher.  

So this year for Father's Day, I would like to honor my father, and all fathers and important male mentors in our lives, by sharing a few Dadisms, each with a connection to the game of baseball.  

"Keep your eye on the ball."  

This piece of wisdom was shared in an attempt to make a player a better hitter and is all about the importance of being focused. In our work and personal lives, as with baseball, staying focused on what is most important is critical.

"Look the ball into your glove."  

This is a similar piece of wisdom but related to being a good fielder. The lesson here is, again, the importance of focus and concentration. Errors often occur when a fielder is looking to where they are planning to throw the ball, rather than focusing on watching the ball fly and then land into the glove. The parallel to this regarding wellness is that the gift we can offer another person is by being truly present to them-so that our conversation with them is all that matters to us at that moment. We follow their words carefully, just like we follow the ball into the glove, never taking our eyes or attention off of them. We need to avoid making the error of "losing track of the ball" in the meaningful relationships of our lives as well as on the field.  

"Shake it off."  

This is often said either after a tough loss, after making an error, or getting hit by a pitch. This is not only sound advice, but it sends a positive, hopeful message. Things don't always go as planned. We all experience defeat and loss, on and off the field. These things don't have to define us though. When we are hurting in life, as in baseball, maintaining emotional and spiritual resiliency is the key to recovering and moving on.  

"Know what you are going to do with the ball
before it's hit to you."  

This, too, is excellent advice in baseball and life. Applied to baseball, it means knowing the situation (how many outs there are, what the score is, and how many runners are on base) before the ball is hit to you, so that there will be no hesitation as to what to do if the ball does come to you. Applied to life, it means we need to anticipate and rehearse our responses to both positive opportunities and potential negative situations before they arise. Parents can teach their children proactively to practice their responses and be prepared ahead of time for potential negative influences and temptations. This is clearly great advice for adults as well.

"Wait for your pitch."

Patience is the key to making good decisions in all aspects of life, including being a good hitter. Knowing when not to swing at a pitch is as important as knowing when to swing. Take your time and weigh your options when you are going to make any big decision in life.

"Know when and how to sacrifice."

In baseball, executing a proper sacrifice involves advancing or scoring another player who is on base, at the expense of giving yourself up for an out. This can be done by bunting or by hitting a deep fly ball to the outfield (or even hitting to the right side of the infield, if there is a runner on second). It may look easy, but being able to make good sacrifices on a consistent basis takes years of practice, as many dads through the years have known and have done for us.

As you think this weekend of your father, or perhaps a grandfather, uncle, coach, teacher, or other significant men in your life, you may come up with your own list of helpful words of wisdom. If you have any that are particularly meaningful to you, please share them in the comments below.

As Father's Day approaches, it's an ideal time to pause, remember, and honor the men in our lives who taught us such significant lessons as the importance of watching the ball, planning ahead, bouncing back, being patient, and when and how to sacrifice.  

* I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge that Father's Day can be a difficult day for many people, especially for people who have lost their father recently, and for those who have had a painful relationship with their father. My heart goes out to those of you who are experiencing grief for any reason this Father's Day.


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Sabbath Time

 
Sabbath Time
 

Sabbath Time

I am currently serving for two weeks as a visiting pastor for a small historic church (built in 1878) in the village of Fish Creek in Door County, Wisconsin. The Church of the Atonement is only open in the summertime and is served by guest clergy who come every couple of weeks throughout the summer. It is a special place in the heart of Door County.

For those of you not familiar with Door County, it is the long peninsula that extends up into Lake Michigan north of the city of Green Bay. It is a quaint string of villages surrounded by beautiful farmland and numerous parks and is sometimes referred to as the Cape Cod of the Midwest. Door County lovers, however, prefer to think of Cape Cod as the Door County of the East. 

Last Sunday I preached about the importance of Sabbath time, and Door County was the perfect place to do this because two million people come here each year to rest, renew, and give themselves a time to reset their busy lives. Many families have been coming here for generations to enjoy a slower, more deliberate pace of life.  

For many of us, the season of summer includes creating space for some intentional Sabbath time, which often includes time visiting a special place that helps us to shift gears for a weekend, a week, or longer. Summer is a natural time for recreation, a natural time for us to think about taking time to renew and "re-create" our selves.  

A story comes to mind that illustrates how important it is to take time for rest and renewal. The story is from long ago and involves two lumberjacks who are near the end of a long day during which they have been cutting down large trees since just after sunup, using an old-fashioned two-person hand saw with one of them on each end pulling back and forth. As the day comes to a close, a passerby happens upon the two lumberjacks and pauses to watch them work their craft. The passerby looks around and sees dozens of large trees that have been felled just that day, but at the same time notices that the lumberjacks are making absolutely no progress on the last tree of the day. They are halfway through the tree, and no matter how hard they work, they cannot make it through this last tree. They finally call it quits and begin to strike up a conversation with the passerby. They point proudly to all the trees that they had cut that day, but then explain that the last several trees took them twice as long to cut and that the last tree was impossible for them to get through. They were perplexed as to why this was but figured they probably just were worn out from all the effort they had exerted, even though they had taken several rest breaks. It was only then that the passerby asked them a critical question, "I'm just curious, how many times during the day did you stop to sharpen the saw?"  

Summer is an excellent time for us all to take time to sharpen our saws. Take a moment right now to think about what helps you sharpen your saw. And as you do this, think about it from a holistic perspective. What enables you to sharpen your soul? ..... your heart?.....your mind?..... and your body? The answer to these questions will be different for each of us, but each of us knows what sharpens--and what creates dullness-in our soul/heart/mind/body. Proactive wellness involves knowing what choices and habits we can make to help us create some Sabbath time of rest and renewal, and then following through on the commitment to do those things.  

Please notice the critical difference between rest and "sharpening the saw." Making time for "down time" and rest is undoubtedly important, but it is not the same as sharpening the saw, Sharpening the saw provides us with renewed energy and is life-giving. I enjoy resting on the couch and watching a good TV show or an hour of a good ball game, but when I want to truly sharpen my saw I'll go for an hour walk or bike ride, read an inspiring book, or get together with some close friends for some great conversation. In the lumberjack story remember that they took several rest breaks, but what they forgot to do was make time to sharpen the saw.

So, happy beginning of summer everyone. And here's hoping that your summer includes some sabbath time to re-create, renew and sharpen your soul, your marriage, your physical wellness, or a valuable friendship.


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Commencement Speeches

 
Commencement Speeches
 

Commencement Speeches

My column from a few weeks ago invited all of us to take this season of commencement ceremonies as an opportunity to think about the possibility of commencing with something new in our own lives. Many of you wrote to share things you were in the process of starting or are planning on starting soon. Here are a few of the things you shared: doing yoga for the first time, moving to a new city, starting a new job, taking up the piano, learning to grow vegetables, entering a new relationship, planning for retirement, and taking ballroom dance lessons.  

Staying with this theme, I found myself reflecting on the tradition of commencement speeches. These are standard fare for graduation ceremonies and often feature famous people sharing their best wisdom and advice with new graduates as they prepare to enter the world of adulthood. 

Now most of us will probably never be invited to deliver a commencement speech, and so I tried a little experiment this week. I asked dozens of people to imagine what they would say in such a speech, if by chance they were ever invited to deliver one. I asked them to try to sum up their thoughts in one or two sentences.

Below you will find some of the wisdom people shared with me, something they would like to say to graduates beginning a new stage of life. Most of you reading this are probably not currently graduating from school, yet most likely you are beginning something new or different in your life, in one form or another. As you read these wise words, think about what you can learn from each as you embark on that something new in your life. 

You can train your heart and mind to be empathetic, compassionate, and altruistic, if you want. I invite you to want that and to begin training now. (John)

Do what is right, because it's right. If it hurts others, don't do it. Listen, Think, Do. (Mary)

Be authentic....your authentic self. The world doesn't need perfect people. The world needs authentic, real people. (Jan)

This present moment is sacred. Savor it because the next present moment is sacred. (Trawin)

You can find poetry in anything; look, listen, absorb and create your own verse. (Chase)

Recognize life as an unfolding journey of acceptance & letting go - know you are called. Step out then with the understanding you are loved and gifted to be love along your/our shared walk in this world. (Rob)

Work hard. Play hard. Love greatly. Give greatly. And always remember the people around you. (Anna)

Everything in life is an experience, good or bad. The key is how we learn, grow, and improve from all of our experiences. (Dan)

From Shinichi Suzuki, "When love is deep, much can be accomplished." (Kay)

When a loved one tells you, "You are going the wrong way," ask yourself, "Is it better for me to be right in this moment or to be in relationship?" and then be open to the surprise another's direction might have in store for you. (Debra)

We are not here to be served, but to serve. (Beth)

Remember that everything you will accomplish in this world will be as an embodied being. As such, take care of your body, it's for more than simply hauling your head around. (Gary)

Stop being afraid, especially of other people. Be brave in your compassion. (Don)

When someone is lending a hand or offering you support with advice, suggesting you speak with a colleague for encouragement, ; Ask yourself the question, "What is my part in all this? How do I meet them half-way?"  It's a beautiful thing! (Brenda)

Be kind. (Barb)

"Be patient with the whole world. But above all, be patient with yourself." Frances de Sales. (Jason)

"Be kind to everyone you meet for each is fighting a great battle." Phillip of Alexandria, Bishop, 1250 AD (James)

Be kind. Stop from time to time and see the beauty around you. Trust your gut and listen for the spirit. (Catherine)

To paraphrase CS Forester - 'Human nature, dear graduates, is what you were put on earth to rise above.' (Vince)

Believe more in the currency of love and grace, even in the midst of your aspirations and achievements. (Jim)

Lots of things in life are interesting - only a few are really important. (Carol)

If you make a mistake own up to the mistake, apologize if you need to do so, fix it if it is possible to do so & move on. (Beth)

I conclude this list with what I would say:  Pay attention to what you pay attention to, because whatever you pay attention to is what will grow in your life and in the lives of those around you.

Clearly, I am blessed to know some very wise people!  

Now it's your turn. What would you say if given a chance to offer a sentence or two of advice to young graduates? Feel free to reply to this email and let me know.


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There is Power in Love to Show Us the Way to Live

 
There is Power in Love to Show Us the Way to Live
 

There is Power in Love to Show Us the Way to Live

We know that if we are sick with a cold or the flu that what we have may be contagious. I have used this as a metaphor before when I have written about how we can also be contagious concerning our moods and energy, spreading them to those around us. I think most of us would agree that negative moods and critical energy are contagious, sometimes infecting a whole family, group, or organization. The good news though is that joy, along with the enthusiasm of love are also contagious, and likewise, we can feel it when love and joy have infected those around us.

I don't know about you, but I don't need more reminders that negative news is contagious, as I am bombarded with evidence of this every day. What I do need are reminders that love and joy are also infectious. And that is precisely what I received this past week when someone shared with me some of the highlights of the royal wedding.  

While the ceremony, including the readings and the music, (Did you see that performance of Stand By Me?!) were beautiful, it was the sermon from Bishop Michael Curry that lit a fire in my spirit. In case you missed it, here are a few excerpts from this sermon:

There is something right about it (love). And there's a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant - and are meant - to be lived in that love. That's why we are here.

There's power in love to help and heal when nothing else can.  There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.  There's power in love to show us the way to live.

Think and imagine a world where love is the way.

Imagine our homes and families where love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way.

Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way.

Imagine this tired old world where love is the way. When love is the way - unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.

When love is the way, there's plenty good room - plenty good room - for all of God's children.

When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.


As powerful as these words are, it is the spirit with which he delivered and embodied these words-a spirit of love and joy-that the world has found to be so highly contagious. Some two billion people watched the sermon while viewing the wedding ceremony, and since then there have been millions of views of it on social media. If you are one of the few people who hasn't heard it yet, you can experience it here.

Even if you have already watched the sermon, you might want to watch again next time you need a little infusion of love and joy. And then, having been influenced by that spirit of love, go and find a way to spread some of it in your corner of the world.


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Commencement Exercises

 
Commencement Exercises
 

Commencement Exercises

Many of us know someone who is graduating this time of year.  Perhaps we may even be attending a graduation ceremony, reading a famous person’s commencement address, or reflecting back to our own graduations.

The fact that graduations are called commencements has always caught my attention, as referring to them the way makes it clear that every ending is also a beginning.  To quote the 1998 classic song, “Closing Time,” by Semisonic, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

There is another term related to graduation and commencement ceremonies that truly captures what is happening in those moments, and at the same time has an excellent message for all of us whether we are graduates or not.  Graduation ceremonies are also referred to as “exercises,” as in “the 165th Commencement Exercises for the University of _______ will be held…..”

I love the phrase “commencement exercises” because it makes it clear that the graduates are beginning something new, which will take effort and a willingness to change.  Like all forms of exercise, starting something new takes discipline, commitment, courage, and intentional effort over a prolonged period of time.  The rewards of exercise may not be apparent immediately, or even in the short term, but over time, regular exercise of any kind will always produce growth and change.

In honor of all who will be participating in official commencement exercises this year, I’d like to offer a suggestion for the rest of us.  Why not think about creating a commencement exercise for yourself right now?  Is there something new that you would like to do to increase wellness in some aspect of your life?  Would you like to start a new hobby, a new workout program, a new activity with someone you love?  Would you like to learn a foreign language, start volunteering, plant a new garden, or begin a spiritual practice or routine?

Creating commencement exercises on a regular basis is a good thing as it strengthens the muscles we need for negotiating transitions and helps us to thrive.  Commencement exercises keep us strong in body, mind, and spirit.

So as we celebrate and honor all who are participating in academic commencement exercises, I hope each of us will be inspired to create goals and a few commencement exercises of our own so that we too can graduate into a new, even better way of being in the world.


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