In the hallowed halls of L’Arche Chicago’s Angel House, a springy spirit has returned with a new dawn of Chicago Cubs baseball nearly upon us. While Anders and I gear up for another exciting season of baseball spectating, I have come to reflect on the ways that L’Arche is like baseball.
A true baseball fan knows that a low-scoring pitchers’ duel is no less exciting than a high-scoring fireworks display. While other sports in American culture value full speed collisions and flashy hundred point forays, baseball celebrates simplicity. The sport requires patience. Everyone in the stadium must wait until the focal person finds the pitch he wants. All the while, a baseball fan recognizes beauty in the uninterrupted repetition of a four-seamer hitting the catcher’s mitt. No one minds the breaks in the action. In baseball, sometimes the breaks are the best part. A polka tune swells from the organ keys, you pop another sunflower seed into your cheek, and the game resumes. In what other sport do they stop the game partway through to sing a song about peanuts and crackerjacks?
On the field, each player brings a special, irreplaceable skillset that his teammates lack. Pitchers need catchers. Outfielders need infielders. Hitters need baserunners. Yet, despite this interdependence, baseball celebrates the individual more so than any other American team sport. One by one, each player takes a turn standing in front of the group to show everyone the gifts that he brings. The team competes as a unit, but each player must step alone onto center stage in turn and represent the team when his name is called. The sport preserves tradition at all costs. Replay technology might improve the sport in theory, but traditionalists prefer to maintain the human element. The tradition must go on. Half the league uses a Designated Hitter, while the other half refuses. Why? Well, that’s the way it’s always been, and that’s how we like it.
That sounds like L’Arche to me. L’Arche celebrates the beautiful simplicity of life. Against a dizzying world focused only on efficiency, L’Arche emphasizes the importance of slowing things down to savor the sights and smells. Against a penny-pinching world focused only on productivity, L’Arche insists that every person contributes in great, unique, immeasurable ways. L’Arche allows each team member to shine individually, and celebrates with hugs and high-fives like teammates after a home run. Some people see baseball as an antiquated relic from a bye-gone era, but L’Arche (like baseball) demonstrates the value of tradition and exhibits the timelessness of something pure. L’Arche stands as one of the most pure bastions of patience, simplicity, community, individuality, humanity, and tradition. My L’Arche teammates welcomed me with open arms without judging me for my batting average or my net worth, my on-base percentage or my social status.
For my whole career, I will root, root, root for this team. America seems to have fallen outof love with baseball, but I hope America never loses touch with L’Arche. If they don’t win, it’s a shame.