by Father Mark Goldasich
In case you’re wondering: Yes, I was devastated.
The Royals’ heart-breaking loss at home to the Giants was not what was in the script. Their magical run through the playoffs was supposed to end with a dramatic home run from Perez with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the World Series, with Gordon on third, giving the Royals a 4-3 victory. Pandemonium was to ensue. The city was to go crazy with jubilation. Destiny was to be fulfilled.
Yeah, that didn’t happen. Honestly, I felt cheated. How fair is it that the Giants won another World Series, their third in five years? Couldn’t God have cut us a break and let the Royals win only their second World Series in 29 years? Was that too much to ask? Because we didn’t “take the crown,” it seemed like the whole season was pointless, we were failures.
When my thoughts reached that point, I retrieved a slim, little volume from my bookshelf, which contained the following riddle: What is the difference between God and you? Answer: God never thinks he’s you. (So, why do I sometimes think I’m God?)
Though not a Catholic spiritual writer, I’ve found much to ponder in Anne Lamott’s writing. Her brief book about keeping prayer simple was just what I needed. The title says it all: “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers” (New York: Riverhead Books; 2012; 102 pgs.; $17.95). I felt comforted as I reread the passages that I’d high-lighted. It put things into perspective and began the process of healing. It’s kind of silly, I guess, to say that I was so affected by a baseball team, but it is what it is.
So, what does Lamott have to say? She reminds us that prayer is “communication from our hearts to the great mystery . . . ‘God.’” And she rightly says that “God can handle honesty, and prayer begins an honest conversation.” So, I brought my brokenness and disappointment to God, who led me through those three essential prayers:
Help. I laughed out loud when I reread this line: “I ask that God’s will be done, and I mostly sort of mean it.” I’d prayed before Game 7 that I accept whatever the outcome was going to be. (And, knowing that God was certainly a Royals fan, I was confident what the final score would be!).
Lamott wisely writes that “most good, honest prayers remind me that I am not in charge, that I cannot fix anything, and that I open myself to being helped by something, some force, some friends, some something.” I am not in charge. (See the riddle above!) If I was, well, things would have been different. But I’m not in charge and, boy, that’s a tough insight to handle. Praying “help,” though, allows us to “turn our eyes to something else,” like:
Thanks. How silly of me to ignore all the good that came from this exciting season of the Royals. It energized the city. It united people. If you were wearing Royals blue, who cared if you were a Democrat or Republican, Kansan or Missourian, white or black or brown or any other color, young or old, male or female, rich or not so rich? And who couldn’t love our hometown baseball players who shared their joy, enthusiasm and this wild ride so generously with the fans? And can you really complain about such a close, exciting Game 7, right down to the last out of the last inning? With just a little reflection, there was — and is — so much to be grateful for.
So, embarrassed yet again by my shortsightedness (This season pointless? Give me a break!) and humbled by the overwhelming generosity of God in all things, I can only look to heaven, grin sheepishly and softly whisper my heartfelt: