Normally I'm not a big baseball fan. But, let's face it. We're all still grappling to find our way to the new "normal," whatever that is. So, this year I am a fan. I'm suddenly a fan of and grateful for a lot of normal things. Like grass that grows, dogs that love their owners, a sun that faithfully rises each morning. And baseball games.
Look at the match-up. The Arizona Diamondbacks have exciting things going for them. A couple of ace pitchers near the peak of their games, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, look tough to beat. It's remarkable how swiftly this expansion franchise has made it to the World Series - faster than any expansion team in Major League history.
The New York Yankees have depth and experience. Established players like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, and Mariano Rivera, as well as rookies like Alfonso Soriano, have come through time and again in clutch situations. The team has been down this road so many times before that a lot of commentators feel not even a swarm of Diamondbacks could rattle the Yankees.
Who's the pick? It's hard to say. But ours is a house of Yankee fans this year. Why? It's not location. We're Californians and traditionally view the New York club as our nemesis, the longtime rival we love to boo. But my kids reminded me of something I didn't really need reminding of. It's New York City. And they felt that as many good things as possible should happen to New York City. So this year we're Yankee fans.
But mostly, we're just fans of whatever is normal and wholesome and good, no matter who wins the Series. It's the normal everyday things, or at least every-year things, that help us feel a steadying. A sense of continuity. An assurance that good is real and present enough to be, not exceptional, but commonplace. What a luxury the normal and ordinary have become! A luxury we all need and deserve and can have on a regular basis.
Actually, I've begun to see that the normal stuff of life - normal at its best - has a divine underpinning to it. And therefore, when we become more aware of this divine underpinning, we find there's a reliability, a consistency to true normalcy.
Looking at something about as far removed from baseball as possible, looking at Bible stories of healings, I found a pattern I hadn't noticed before. Right next to memorable acts of divine power is the pedestrian, the routine. Remember these? Jesus raises Jairus's daughter from the dead. He then says, give her something to eat. Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law of a fever. She gets up and serves Jesus and the disciples. Jesus calms a storm at sea. They continue quietly sailing. Jesus directs them to find a coin in a fish's mouth. They, presumably, go pay taxes with it.
Why do all these extremely normal activities follow what must have seemed extraordinarily wonderful? Maybe because good itself is so normal. And seeing those activities paired in the Bible helps us glimpse this spiritual fact. The rhythm, the cadence, of everyday life doesn't have to be broken by evil. Not when we discern something of the divine basis to the good and normal things of everyday life. So, noting the reliability of things like baseball rivalries, or grass growing, or dogs and their owners, or even the sun gently rising, has a reassuring effect. When we see the divine basis for normal things, we're doing more than employing a psychological technique to steady ourselves. We're praying. We're acknowledging a spiritual truth at work.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote, "Jesus regarded good as the normal state of man, and evil as abnormal; holiness, life, and health as the better representatives of God than sin, disease, and death" ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 200). That sets a pattern we'd all do well to follow. Like Jesus, regard "good as the normal state of man." I'm going to do that. Sure, I'm going to keep cheering and booing throughout the World Series. But most of all, I'm going to keep learning that good has always been the only "normal."