Thursday, October 24, 2013

Praying with....a sports image.

Many of us were taught to close our eyes when we pray, but that never worked for me. I'm not entirely sure why it didn't, but I do think that explains why I have been drawn to praying with icons. This spiritual practice is "an ancient prayer one that involves keeping our eyes wide open, taking into our heart what the image visually communicates. We focus not on what is seen in the icon, but rather on what is seen through it - the love of God expressed through God's creatures." (Religious Icons)
Cover one half of his face and you
will see the human face of Christ.
Then look again

Indeed religious icons can "serve as bridges to Christ, as links with the saints, as reminders of pivotal events in the history of salvation (Aggie Catholics)." One that I pray with regularly (and have referenced many times) has deepened my love for Jesus because of not only who I see, but the way I understand the Lord sees me. It captures Christ's humanity and divinity by a nuance to each side of his face, in particular to his eyes. I know that Christ looks at me through both lenses. He knows my humanity to its fullness—and still His mercy endures. 

Because this method has worked well for me (given my personality, temperament, etc), because I seek to "Find God in All Things," and because I believe not only in the Communion of Saints but of saints (lower case "s"), I thought perhaps I could pray with other images. This wasn't something I had done before. I believe there is much to be said for formal prayer and praying with what the Church recognizes as sacred and holy, and yet I consider any invitation to "lift our hearts and minds to God" to be a good thing. Perhaps it's new or unconventional—I'm ok with a "lower theology." So.... 

In the same way that you are called to let the icon speak to you, I thought sports images, yet sports images that might do this. I thought "surely, there are one or two images that stand out" among the the hundreds I have stored on my computer. I considered those that have served as my cover shot on my Facebook page or others now saved into a favorite album. And then I saw it....Buster Posey holding up Tim Lincecum.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Some who see this photo recognize it is two baseball players, San Francisco Giants in their road uniforms. The joy on their face is brilliant; they are very happy. But when I look at this image, I see so much more.

This photo was taken on July 13, 2013 when “The Freak,” “The Franchise,” the two-time Cy Young award winning pitcher Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres.  

What's interesting is in the 2012 season, Posey was not behind the plate for Lincecum. Posey might be in the game, but playing at first base (part of this was due to his rehab for a broken ankle). However, it was no secret to anyone that although teammates, the two did not get along. Evidently, Posey called #55 out—challenging him to word harder, to be more disciplined. Lincecum didn't take that well. Tensions were high and relations were strained. I have no idea what happened from one season to the next (maybe it was the haircut...maybe it was another World Series title), but on this fateful night, this duo made something happen.

Lincecum will be forever remembered for his talent, strength and finesse. That is proven by this win, among many others. His name goes in the record books for this individual record, but the no-hitter is contingent on much more. The "no-no" is made possible by teammates in the outfield who have outstanding catches, infielders who convert dramatic plays and most especially the catcher who frames pitches behind the plate and calls out what to throw and when.

I think this speaks to life. We accomplish great things. Our gifts and talents are often on display and it feels good when they are recognized or celebrated. But praying with this image reminds us we don't get there alone. Family and friends hold us up along the way. Perhaps those relations have been difficult ones in the past; maybe because of God's grace they are changed. Maybe we have been the person supporting someone else. This image gives me reason to consider those two questions
  1.  Who has been a Buster Posey in your life?
  2. When have you been Posey for someone?
Pray with and for that person. Give thanks to God for their support. Reflect on how God has worked through a variety of relationships in your life—teammates, co-workers, friends, extended family, your home.

I invite you to pray with an image of your own. One where you may know the "story within the story." Let that story guide your prayer. Amen

Photo Credits
Jesus Icon

Posey holds Timmy

No comments:

Post a Comment