Sunday, November 6, 2016

An inspiring saga of unexpected heroes

Nearly 50 million people stayed up past midnight a few days ago to watch the final episode of the World Series, not another game among arrogant overpaid celebrities, but an inspiring saga of unexpected heroes.

You could not have made up a story line like this. But the lowly Chicago Cubs won the final game in overtime, clinching the World Series title for the first time in 108 years.

I watched the celebratory parade on television on Friday through the streets of Chicago. Fans stood tightly together, cheering at times a hundred people deep, a fractured city unified in its rejoicing.  I heard reports that nine million fans lined up along the five mile parade route.

My own experience with the Cubs goes back a long way. First starting at age 16, I worked long hours at Wrigley Field as an usher for $1.60 an hour, learning the grueling endurance of hard work and menial tasks.   Even in the summer heat, we were required to wear wool navy blue uniforms and heels.  There was something about being largely invisible, making sure my post was covered, and not reacting to beer spilled on me through so many seemingly endless innings. I owe a lot to the Cubs in learning how to navigate through life. 

And then, many years later, my mom took care of our oldest daughter as an infant while I worked.  Every afternoon, Mom turned on the television to WGN and parked the baby's car seat in front of the television screen. That entire summer, our baby -- only a few months old -- took her afternoon nap, watching baseball. When I questioned her wisdom in doing that, Mom replied, "But she LOVES the Cubs!"  I worried about the long-term impact on our baby's development, but looking back on it now, it was, in my mom's own profound way, how to love our baby by sharing what she herself loved.

After decades of moving around, my husband and I returned as empty-nesters to live in Chicago a number of years ago. From the window in our attic where I wrote, I could see into our neighbor's backyard.  On washday, she would hang Cubs t-shirts out to dry, hanging from their old swingset, looking like so many colorful prayer flags, fluttering in the wind, cheering on the Cubs from their own little place in the world.

In some ways, the wild celebration over the Cubs victory was not about baseball at all.  As a nation, we have been so overwhelmed by bad news. Sometimes we all  just need something to cheer for.

And there is nothing quite so compelling as when the underdog comes through as the victor.  We all love that kind of redeeming.

Because if the Cubs can make it,
   somehow maybe we can too.
We are going to be ok.

As a friend shared with me, "When it looks like there is no hope in life, God brings in the Cubs."

God is just not finished with any of us yet.

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