Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Yogi's Joy

I was sad to learn today of the passing of baseball great Yogi Berra.  His joy seemed contagious.  I never saw him play, not even on TV.  And I don't watch much baseball anyway.  (Hey, the playoffs are coming soon.  It's time for me to tune in.)  And I've never been a Yankees fan.

Life experiences helped Yogi keep baseball in proper perspective.  He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and fought in the D-Day invasion in 1944.  He had seen real war, and likely faced down death.  That's the perspective he brought to his game.

He set all kinds of baseball records and won many World Series.  But his joy stands out as an enduring legacy.  In nearly every picture published today, he grins ear to ear.  This smile radiates from his soul.  It's not posed, not faked.  You can tell.  He's at ease with himself and the world.

Yogi never took himself too seriously.  He took baseball just seriously enough.  That gave him the freedom to see the world through child-like eyes.  His contradictory proverbs have become part of the American lexicon.  In one of my favorite stories, a family was touring a museum exhibit about Berra, when they happened upon the man himself.  They implored him to share a bit of Yogi-wit.  Berra was taken aback with such a request.  He responded, "I can't just make 'em up on the spot like that.  If I could make 'em up like that, I'd be famous."

Rest in peace Lawrence "Yogi" Berra.  If we could have joy like that, we wouldn't care about being famous or any of the small things.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Open Door to Heaven

Sometimes when I pray, it feels cold and rote.  I try to engage God, and maybe I do.  It's hard to tell.  Often God has a hard time getting my attention, even though I intend to pray. 

Then there are times when I feel like the door to heaven is open, and I commune intimately with the Lord.  I enjoy him.  I feel like I'm in touch with him.  This world makes sense through his eyes.  I know that he knows me, and it's all OK.  It is such blissful harmony.  The time feels so productive, because he has renewed my soul.  He has heard my pleas, and given me answers.

What makes one prayer time so engaging and effective, while the other prayer time is just flat?  On my end, I may be tired or worried or distracted.  I may be discouraged or lazy.  These mental states will obviously hinder my communion with the Lord.

But could God also close the door of communication?  The Bible records stories in which faithful disciples felt far from God.  Elijah and Job come to mind.  God could make communication difficult for me in order to test me.  Will I remain faithful, even when prayer seems useless?

Many spiritual giants through the ages have experienced "dark nights of the soul."  During these times, the disciple seeks to enter God's presence, but something isn't right.  The disciple may confess, repent, take inventory, and still feel distant from God.

The more I pray, the more times I feel connected with him.  But I realize that there may be times when--for his own reasons--God makes that connection more difficult.

Will I keep on loving and adoring him, even when there is no immediate, obvious reward for reaching out to him?