Constancy (noun) 1. the quality of being unchanging or unwavering, as in purpose, love, or loyalty; faithfulness. – Dictionary.com
God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am’….This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations. – Exodus 3
Fifty-one years and counting. Fifty-one seasons, and it all will begin again on a chilly late March day, very soon. The birds will have finally returned to my backyard feeder. There will be a whiff of spring in the air and tiny buds pushing up through the dirt. Remnants of the last snow will be muddy and melting in the driveway.
I’ll turn on my radio and there it will be: a sound as heart soaring as the first robin song of the season. Opening day provides a dependable soundtrack that soothes my soul and comforts my heart and helps me believe in the constancy of life. It helps me trust that some things, some people, some hopes always come back. They just have to.
Like baseball. In my case Boston Red Sox baseball. Preparations are underway down south in Florida and out west in Arizona. Out of shape players are training and huffing and puffing, shaping up for Opening Day. Yes, it might snow again and no doubt it will still get mighty brisk at night. Winter might hang on, a guest who will not leave. Not yet. But the game, this past time: it can’t be stopped. It will return.
There must be some things in life that we can count on, that we believe will still go on while other people and events, fads and beliefs fade away.
It has to return. There must be some things in life that we can count on, that we believe will still go on while other people and events, fads and beliefs fade away.
Truth is I fell out of love long ago with the more human, fallen traits of professional sports. The petulant and braggy personalities that come and go. The loud din of the media that inflates sports to a crazy level of cultural importance. The few players who will always cheat and find some way to win. The business of the sport makes a night for a family at professional ball park pretty darn expensive, out of reach for too many fans.
But I am still a fan.
I’ve realized after more than a half century of fandom that what I really love about the Sox and spring and baseball is the constancy of it all. Its year after year after year dependability. The fact that for most of my life baseball has been there, faithfully, as I’ve grown from a little boy listening to the game on my transistor radio late at night to a fifty-something grown man who still jumps out of his Lazy Boy and yells in joy when the BoSox win a nail biter or, as in 2018, a world championship.
We humans need to believe in such faithfulness, and yes, even if it is corny and yes, even if it is overly romantic and yes, even if it breaks our hearts sometimes.
We humans need to believe in such faithfulness, and yes, even if it is corny and yes, even if it is overly romantic and yes, even if it breaks our hearts sometimes. Last month I said a final goodbye to a dear friend and co-worker at the church I serve, who was a constant presence in my life for the last eleven years. Almost every day that I went to work, I would open the church office door and see Jose sitting at her desk, smiling, always ready to greet me. In her faithfulness, I felt more grounded in this life. Solid. Stable. Loved. So when cancer took her away, on a cold February Sunday morning, it rocked my world.
We all need such constancy to claim a place to stand in this world. Fidelity to people and in relationships: a marriage, a friendship, a constant connection to one faithful soul who stays. In our God, in an ancient yet ever renewing faith, faith in an “I AM” God who was and is and will be. Faith in faith itself, faith that at its best walks with us through all of the valleys and up all of the mountains that life puts in our path Faith in something or someone or some ideal or some power that just keeps on keeping on even as so much in modern life comes and goes, rises and falls, burns bright and burns out.
Even baseball can be a sign of hope that some things in life stay constant.
This is how the character of Terrence Mann, in the 1989 baseball film and fairy tale Field of Dreams, spoke of the game and its return every spring. “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.”
Even something as seemingly simple as a game, as an on-field competition among overgrown boys — even this can be a sign of hope that some things in life stay constant. Spring must come back. A dark and chilly tomb is not the final verdict and there is still more to come.
So I am counting the days to Opening Day. It’s almost time to pull my faded blue and red ball cap from the back of the coat closet and tune the radio to a game.