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Giving birth at a baseball game

On Thursday evening, about 7 p.m. local time in San Diego, a baby was born at Petco Park in the 4th inning of the Padres game. Just another day at the ballpark, or so many people thought, until they heard the news that a baby had been born while they had been watching a baseball game. Just another day at the ballpark, to people waking up across the country, seeing headlines instead of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred meeting with Pete Rose, and former FIFA president Sepp Blatter being investigated for criminal offences. So many profound things go unnoticed in our news-cycle world.

Not only was there a baby born during the game, but the game also featured a rare run-scoring balk, an epic stare-down between pitcher and umpire, and a dramatic walk-off win for the home team.

Baseball is beloved because of how similar it is to life. The season is long, with 162 games spanning 6 months, and if your team is good, 7. It's a relatively slow game, with lots of down time between the action. You'll see players yawn, assistant coaches fall asleep, and all manner of the bizarre over the course of a major league season.

Ken Burns describes our affinity to baseball: "Nothing in our daily life offers more of the comfort of continuity, the generational connection of belonging to a vast and complicated American family, the powerful sense of home, the freedom from time's constraints, and the great gift of accumulated memory than does our National Pastime."

Football and basketball happen at breakneck speed, with little chance to catch your breath as a fan. They are frenetic. They demand your attention. But baseball putters on in the background. Sportswriters are constantly worried that baseball will get left in the dust as the spectacle of football towers over American culture. But it continues to draw millions of fans, capturing those who have become tired of the soap-opera dramas of other sports.

I think much of what makes baseball popular in its unique way is that it affords all levels of interest. There are those who become absorbed in the statistical aspects of the game. There are those who enjoy the mental side of the game. And everyone loves the heart-stopping, white-knuckle moments of a close game in the 9th inning.

So much in our world goes unnoticed. Even hard-core sports fan will hardly hear about all the amazing events that happened at Petco Park last night. But just because something isn't trumpeted in the news doesn't mean that it is not significant.

Think about that family who now has a new little baby. Their lives are completely different today than yesterday.

Miraculous, life-changing things happen all around us, yet so often they go unnoticed. We rarely stop to give God praise for all the myriad of ways, big and small, that he works in and around us. Life is better lived when we learn to see the world through the lens of gratitude, noticing that "the world is charged with the grandeur of God." (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

One of my favorite lines from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is when Gandalf writes to Frodo at the beginning of his long journey to carry the ring of power to destroy it at Mount Doom and says, "All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost."

Gratitude grows deep roots of joy in our lives that cannot be reached by the frost of circumstances that so often steal our surface-level happiness. But gratitude only comes when you are aware of the things around you. You've got to learn to see, to truly see. So much more happened at the Padres game last night than just a 5-4 win for the home team. So much more happens in our own lives as well.

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