I remember the excitement with which I attended my first professional baseball game. I was about 7 or 8 years old. As an athlete and a lover of all things sports related, I was extremely happy to be going to Fenway Park with my parents and one of my siblings. I recall the crowds, the noise, the vendors (“Get ya program heeere!”), the field, the hotdogs, Pesky’s Pole, the announcer’s voice, seeing the players that I knew from watching games on TV or listening to them on the radio, and more. Of all these things though, what struck me most was the singing of the national anthem, the 7th inning stretch complete with the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, and all the moments in between and after where the crowd was in unison. At the time, I remember thinking and feeling that it was the most awesome thing, I had ever experienced.
More than three decades later, I still find the singing of the national anthem and the 7th inning stretch to be so moving. It is similar to those moments at a graduation or a concert where people from all walks of life are joined together for the same purpose, and in the same spirit. It is as if the human spirit is overflowing in joy, anticipation, excitement and celebration. There is a sense of togetherness…a sense of unity. It is exhilarating!
In those moments, what “side” we are on, ceases to matter. For in those moments, we are one. United, and all the things that cause division are gone, at least temporarily. How precious those moments! How brightly we shine, or rather, how brightly the Spirit shines within and through us.
I cannot imagine such things (a national anthem, graduation, concert, etc.) without openness to the Spirit from which active participation springs. Imagine what it would be like if instead of singing a national anthem, we spoke it, or, if instead of clapping with applause, we just stood there silently or gave only a nod of approval. How bizarre would that be? It would be spiritless. I don’t think there is any way we would accept such a lackluster response!
Imagine if that was the norm at such events though. Would we continue to attend them? Would they mean less to us? It certainly seems like we would be less apt to attend or to participate.
I wonder…why are we less open…why do we accept less in some areas of our lives as compared to others? What determines how actively we participate? Again, imagine how less invigorating the start of a ball game would be if we spoke the national anthem instead of singing it; or imagine what it would be like to be at a concert and to not be standing, clapping and/or singing along.
What is the difference between those moments where I so readily unleash the Spirit within and allow myself to participate fully, in communion with those around me and the moments when I do not? What holds me back? What prevents my heart from being in those moments?
How different the world is when that Spirit is present. What a difference it makes!