Last week I attended an all day workshop for spiritual directors in which singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer facilitated. If you haven’t heard this incredibly talented folk singer you simply must! I was introduced to her music a couple of years ago by my spiritual director (more on that later) so I felt I was in for a real treat.
Whenever I set aside time for growth and learning, I am always blessed. Carrie’s workshop “Our Lives as Sacred Story” delivered in abundance! We were asked to write in answer to a prompt for about 10 minutes and then share in dyads both of which are a little challenging for me. Time limits on writing? Share with another person? Yikes! Breathe in, breathe out, let it go – phew! Blessed be! My sharing partner was not a stranger but one of my fellow graduates from the Benedict Inn Spiritual Directors Internship and someone I’ve learned to trust with some of my “stuff” so my shared emotions did not frighten her no hers scare me off. Spiritual grace shared in abundance.
After lunch, we reconvened and Carrie took the entire group through a process in which we collectively wrote a song. Yes, a group of spiritual directors, Carrie Newcomer and The Spirit wrote a song together. I love the words of the chorus:
“It’s ordinary, extraordinary. It’s a true soul story. And it’s holy, it is holy”
I found myself singing the chorus at various moments this week. The juxtaposition of ordinary things like a stranger’s kindness or a smile with the majesty and wonder of Niagara Falls brought it forth. Or walking into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, which felt like walking into a sacred place among the extraordinary men who’s bronze plaques grace the walls, while wearing my ordinary high school baseball team shirt and hat of my favorite team (and my mother’s).
It is holy and it is a soul story. Visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY is a mix of vacation with my ever patient spouse, crossing a thing off my bucket list and grieving my mother’s death. I thought a visit to Niagara Falls on the way to Cooperstown was a great way to avoid driving 10 or 11 hours in one day. I thought we’d walk to the park overlooking part of the falls, snap a few photos and call it a day. We did much more and immersed ourself in the whole experience and visited the Cave of the Winds, rode the Maids of the Mist boat, visited Goat Island and saw the giant whirlpool. An extraordinary experience!
Cooperstown. The Baseball Hall of Fame. Part museum. Part holy place honoring the mortal men who did extraordinary things playing a child’s game with a round ball measuring only 9 1/4 inches in circumference and weighing between 5 and 5 1/4 ounces, and a round piece of wood less than 42 inches in length, no more than 2.75 inches round and weighing between 33 and 36 ounces on a field shaped like a diamond where the distance between bases is 90 feet. It is the place of dreams for players and fans alike.
I had many reasons for journeying to Cooperstown. There is certainly a “wow” factor to walking into the room of plaques of inductees. Images of players, managers, commissioners, broadcasters, and umpires from the Major leagues and Negro leagues are cast in bronze containing 90 words about their career accomplishments. As of January 2018, there were 323 inductees in the HOF. Five more players made up the induction class of July 2018. Yep – there’s the WOW factor.
Then there is the connection with my mother who taught me to throw a baseball when I was a wee one, introduced me to Pete Rose at Crosley Field, and who took me to Cincinnati Reds baseball games including the opening day game in 1974 when Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s home run record among other things. She died on a the evening after listening on the radio to her favorite high school baseball team play in the State Championship game. For her, the season had ended and it was time to tarp the field and go home. I knew she and my dad went to Cooperstown when Milwaukee Brave third basemen, Eddie Matthews was inducted in 1978. I wanted to go there too, to affirm the connection with my mother and with baseball.
I will admit it was a little emotional. There were times when I felt my throat tighten and my eyes held some tears almost ready to cascade like the falls at Niagara but as Tom Hanks’ character in A League of Their Own and is often quoted “there’s no crying in baseball”. So, no crying in the Hall of Fame! My journey to Cooperstown is part of my soul story. And it’s holy. It. Is. Holy. The tears not shed are holy. My ordinary and very extraordinary mother is holy. It is my true soul story.
Reflections: Reflect on the ordinary and extraordinary in your life. How is it holy? Are you able to see all of your life, the ordinary and extraordinary as holy? Why or why not?
Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support. Please feel free to forward to friends and family.
Blessings one and all,
(I took all the photographs here with a Nikon 7500 using a 18-140 mm lens.)