Brandy Lovely and I had a running argument about whether golf or baseball was the better metaphor for life. Brandy was the senior minister two before me, and the one responsible for the church being what it is today. The church moved from Pasadena and California Avenues to our current location when he was minister, and grew into the healthy congregation it continues to be during his ministry. He was my mentor and my dear friend.
He was also an ardent Red Sox fan, and must be smiling from beyond the veil now (Boston leads the World Series 3 games to 2 as I write). He argued for baseball; I argued for golf, and neither of us budged an inch. Of course, I was right (!) even as I recognize that neither are very good metaphors for our lives. Lives are not contests; we don’t keep score, or at least we shouldn’t. There aren’t big books of rules, and there really are no professional organizations that ride herd on what is allowed or not. Though religions probably try to play that role.
Sports are universal and probably have something to do with the joy of the body in motion. Watch a dog run, or a bird fly, a dolphin swim; notice a child dance or an adult do the same. We are bodies, after all. I was a jock when I was young and I remember the sheer joy of just running. My sister had cerebral palsy and so couldn’t run, but she would throw back her head and sing and love the physicality of it all.
Emerson used to talk about corpse cold Unitarians and said that Unitarianism is a religion for the neck up only. I hope that is not true. Thinking is fun and wonderful, but so is moving. We do the hokey pokey and love it. We sing and joy enters our lives. I would rather be active than passive, a participant in life than an observer.
This Sunday we will remember those in our lives who have died – bring a picture or a memento for our Day of he Dead altar if you wish and put it up front at the start of the service. It is also All Saints Day and the people we remember are probably the saints of our lives. And what we have lost of them is their active bodies. They way they smelled or sounded or moved; their touch; the sight of them. Everyone of them was an athlete in some way or another, a jock of some kind; every one was in our own world series, every one won a major tournament.
God, I miss them all.
-Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson