a resource for this time of COVID-19 social distancing
By the Rev. Bruce W. Gray
Probably everyone has their inner measurements of seasons, of cues that let them know when it is summer, fall, winter or spring. For as long as I can remember, baseball has marked the beginning of warmth and long days, whether I was playing it at a local ball field or watching a professional game in a stadium, with television or radio broadcasts being an unsatisfying substitute for being there in person.
But in this time of COVID-19, both time and place have been out of place, including with baseball. The Indianapolis Triple A team never played a game this year. The major leagues stadiums are locked to all but the most essential members of the teams, with some players sitting in the otherwise empty stands to allow for social distancing during games. It is an odd sight on television, and the stadiums having prerecorded fan noise playing makes it all the more disorienting (one reason for that piped in noise is to help cover up for the sake of the broadcasts the swearing by the players).
Perhaps the weirdest thing has been the pictures of fans that have been attached to some of the empty seats in the stadiums. Watching various TV games has allowed me to see that some stadiums have none of these "fan cutouts" while others, such as my San Francisco Giants, have thousands of cutouts, with some stadium sections virtual sell-outs. The effect is impressive enough that in an early game of this unique season an outfielder, after catching the ball for the third out, tossed the ball to a cutout since he always tossed a third out ball to a fan. He looked a bit embarrassed as the ball rolled around on the concrete beneath the cutout's seat.
I think we can all understand that player's automatic action, born of years of experience, that came from him for a moment forgetting the weird conditions of his game. I know I at times over the past months have forgotten about COVID-19 and the care we must all take with one another to help keep one another healthy. Yet we cannot pretend that we are playing a normal game, that life is returning to normal just because we wish it so. Instead, we must be as diligent as ever, even though it stresses our patience and we may be running out of energy to be focused on something so challenging.
So in those moments of fatigue and frustration, it is crucial to turn to God, and seek God's gifts for us to get through these times. As much as we wish we could be sitting in the stands at Victory Field in Indianapolis, enjoying the evening air and the company of fellow baseball fans, that is not possible. But we can still love and be loved, by God, by one another, by family friends and strangers, when we seek the best for everyone, health for everyone, safety for everyone, and let God recharge us so that we can continue to live meaningful lives even as we do our best to follow the best science, the best research, in order to keep each other safer. Right now that continues to be one of the most important ways to love our neighbor in fulfillment of God's commandment to us.