Maybe it’s because I grew up playing the sport but for me nothing compares to the grace and beauty of baseball. A picture of Willie Mays’ famous play during the 1954 World Series, an amazing moment known simply as “The Catch,” has graced the wall in my office for years. I’m not entirely sure why, except that somehow, my whole life, the image has captured for me something essential about people at their core, their beautiful best.
Completely tuned in to the present moment – blood pumping, neurons firing, muscle and spirit alighting, body outstretched to meet the trajectory of the hurtling ball – crowd rapt in attention – Mays draws us in and invites us still to behold the wondrous “possibilities of presence.” Mays is grace in motion. And shows us, as in a mirror, beautiful possibilities that lay sleeping in all of us.
Human beings, in a word, are potential miracle workers. Yet the miracle resides no more in the dramatic gesture or extraordinary feat than in the hidden and ordinary moments, day in and day out, attuned to the work – and play! – closest at hand.
Last night, for example, in the hordes of kids streaming through the neighborhood trick-or-treating, yes! And no less, in the otherwise anxious and too-busy grown-ups dressing up ridiculously and covering their houses with giant spider webs, strobe lights, and creepy skeletons.
Beautiful. Ordinary. Magic. Grace in motion.
Another baseball season come and gone. Leaves falling, the chill of winter setting in. Kids overdosing on Halloween candy and parents circling back into the stream of the mundane.
But Willie Mays beckons us to remember – and take delight – in the ordinary and extraordinary possibilities of presence.
Speaking of which: I have a long overdue date tonight with the Cat in the Hat.