The bad news is that the Cubs lost their only three postseason games this year and will not be going to the World Series.
The good news is that the cosmos is stable, the economic crisis has not disturbed the fundamental mechanics of the universe, and electoral deceptions do not disrupt the fabric of the most basic truths of life. The Cubs lost–the world is as it should be.
Am I sad? Not really. Oh, I would have enjoyed a Cub run through the Series to victory. I would have savored it.
But I am a Cubs fan. I understand loss. It does not surprise me. I even, to some degree, find my identity as a Cubs fan in the futility, the pain, and the disappointment. There is a sadistic kind of joyo in losing for a Cubs fan. It is the way it is.
I am not a johnny-come-lately Cubs fan. I have been a fan since 1967 (since I was 10 years old)–the years of Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, etc. I was a Cubs fan long before WGN went cable.
So, my serenity is not disturbed by an early exit from the postseason. In fact, my serenity does not come from sports at all.
If I may wax a bit theological here….are you surprised?….my theology of “play” is not about winning or distraction. It is about enjoying the moment; about taking pleasure in the gifts God has given to his world. To play–or to watch vicariously–is a kind of abandonment to the moment, to experience joy (even when we lose!).
I enjoy the Cubs as a part of my “playing,” just as I enjoy other moments of “play” (from playing cards to playing with my wife). They provide moments of life, moments of joy, spontaneous moments that re-create and enliven our stories.
But my serenity does not depend on winning or losing. My serenity comes from playing in the presence of God…just as the Sabbath was not simply a day of rest, but a day of enjoyment, a day to play…just as the Song of Songs was about the playfulness of sexual love between a man and woman…just as biblical hospitality is not merely an ethical obligation but a moment to play as well.
So, the Cubs lost. That’s ok. God is stil God–obviously! And my abiding joy–as I continue to learn–comes from a divine presence rather a Cubs World Series victory. To despair over a loss in sports is a loss of perspective about what is truly important and from where true joy comes.
P. S. For those interested in a good book on the “theology of play,” read my former professor’s The Christian at Play by Robert K. Johnston. Enjoy!