Last Wednesday, I received a curious package.  I opened it to find a bright red St. Louis Cardinals necktie.  The tie had been sent as a gift by a friend who knows how dear the redbirds are to me; he also knows the reason for my sentimental attachment.  My father was a big fan of the game.  He raised me to love it, too, sharing his biases for the National League, which was undefiled by the designated hitter, and the position of catcher, the noblest on the field.  (Dad was a former catcher.)

When we lived in St. Louis, I went to a lot of games with my father.  Baseball courses through that city like the muddy river upon whose banks it is played.  I have shared with many of you the memory of reaching into my father’s shirt pocket to fish out roasted peanuts while we leaned forward in our seats cheering every pitch.  To this day, watching a Cardinals game is an exercise in remembrance.  And every time they play for a pennant I find myself laughing like a little boy and asking out loud, “Dad, did you see that?”

The friend that sent the tie knew that I would be excited about it.  What he didn’t know is that I would take it out of the box and put it on, wearing it for the rest of the night, though it didn’t match my shirt.  The deacons took note a couple of hours later, smiling at my brazen ensemble as the Cardinals beat the Brewers.  The following evening, I forgot to wear the tie and the Cardinals lost.  A day later, I wore the tie and my team won again.  Now I’m not superstitious, but…

So yes I was wearing it when the Cardinals clinched.  But something much more important was happening.

Along with all of the silliness of the necktie, the joking about baseball superstition, and the simple pleasure of listening to ballgames on the radio and hearing my favorite team do well, I had taken a sentimental step.  I gave my son his first Cardinals cap.  Donning it proudly, he asked me about the St. Louis Cardinals, the rules of how baseball is played, and what it was like to watch baseball with my Dad, his grandfather.  Every day we’ve been telling stories.  And every day I’ve laughed, cried, or both as I give thanks for my father and my son.  The seasons of this life are a gift, and this fall feels especially sweet.

Covenant is a church full of baseball fans.  I wonder, this week, what the game evokes for you.  What lessons has it taught you?  What memories does it bring?

With aloha,

J

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