Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace. ~ St. Augustine, Confessions
Though I have loved baseball my whole life, watching Tony La Russa on the top step of the dugout during last night's All Star game made me think of this famous quote of St. Augustine. It might seem odd, but I'll try and explain.
I remember Joe Torre as the Cardinals manager, barely, but I spent 16 summers analyzing, critiquing, questioning, doubting, cheering, and crying because of Tony La Russa and the multitude of ways he had of impacting a baseball game. Sure the Cardinals went to the playoffs nine times in sixteen years, won a pennant, and two World Series, but, heavens, I always thought, no, I knew that TLR was cooking up something in the dugout that was going to mess up everything or maybe, just maybe, pull a win out of nowhere. (To point, I once saw a game where the Cardinals lost 12-9 after leading 9-3 going into the ninth and a game the Cardinals won 5-4 after trailing 4-0 going into the ninth.)
I, like St. Augustine, always recognized the presence, but failed to see its total impact.
Then, last night happened. For me to really understand how Tony La Russa had impacted my life and my Cardinals, I had to come back to him. Long had he been in my life, but only after years of ups and downs did I fully come to appreciate how great La Russa really was.
So it is with many of us and the spiritual life. Life is about conversion and conversion is about recognizing God in our lives more and more. Sometimes we need to step back to recognize how present God is in our lives. This fresh perspective can then open our hearts and souls to the God's infinite mercy, love, and grace. Then, and only then, can we set out to become the saints we were created to be.
If a 68-year-old man in a baseball uniform can make me recognize all of the wonderful successes of my favorite team during the last 16 years, how much more can 16 minutes of meditating on the cross bring each of us!
Hope springs eternal!
*Note: Technical difficulties have prevented us from recording another show from Minneapolis. A vow of poverty actually has real life consequences.