Braid Mission


When Nothing Is Something

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It is always fun to sit with someone who is being introduced to something for the first time.

My beloved Boston Red Sox were in Oakland for a three game series last week. For one of the games this year I attended with a friend, Jamie, who brought her partner who was visiting from New Zealand.

Michael had only ever seen baseball once before this game and not surprisingly did not have much of a clue as to what was going on. His partner thought that it would be good if he sat next to me so I could walk him through the game, explaining what was happening and why something was important or not.

So the game proceeded, and I would take time every now and again to explain why the crowd was cheering or what was the difference between a single and a home run. And in between we discussed New Zealand and cricket and agriculture (his field).

Around the seventh inning, Michael’s partner turned to me and pointed at the score board. I had been so engaged in my conversation and teaching that I failed to notice that the Oakland pitcher was working on a no-hitter. This is a rare occurrence in baseball, for a pitcher to pitch an entire game without allowing a single hit or run.

In the end the Oakland pitcher threw a no-hitter and the crowd went wild.

Michael stood and cheered with the other 27,000 baseball fans and tried to look as though he understood why we were cheering. When the noise died down and folks started leaving, he turned to us and asked us to explain.

We took time to explain what a no-hitter was and how rare they were (this was only the 12th time in A’s history) and how he had just been treated to quite a spectacle. Still looking somewhat confused he stated, “So we have sat here for over two hours and are excited because nothing happened?! What sort of game is baseball?”

A true statement. One I could appreciate. From his perspective it would seem as though nothing happened. We even told him as much. But, from the perspective of those who live the game and have done so for decades, observing this “nothing” was an incredible occasion.

This might be a useful analogy when working with people, one that perhaps can be appreciated by those who are teachers, social workers, clergy and even mentors.

There are occasions when it seems as though there is nothing happening with the student or parishioner or client. Sometimes these occasions can stretch on and on. And yet, over a period of time one can find that while it appeared that nothing was happening, instead there was something marvelous being played out in front of us. A chrysalis which seemed moribund was in the process of developing an incredible life.

But it is a long game, and sometimes takes a while to see and understand.