Saturday, November 19, 2011

An Ode to Softball Fields and Life

I suppose this is an odd post for an agrarian blog, but keep reading and you will understand. I grew up in very rural SC Kansas. During the late summer months, and in fact throughout the summer, there is much work to be done. When I was young, almost everyone I knew was a farmer or a farmer's kid. Recreational time during the busy season was often limited, but one thing I remember throughout my childhood is the softball tournaments that went on in the various small towns near our home. There was one in Zenda, Willowdale, and in my hometown of St. Leo. These names are strange and unfamiliar to most all of you, but to me they are near to my heart. I remember how everyone seemed to stop what they were doing during those hot summer afternoons and evenings to come watch a softball game and to have what basically amounted to one big social event. The children could often be seen playing a game of football just at the edge of the lights beyond the outfield fence.

These memories bring joy and sadness to me now. The fields which once were a center for community life are now overgrown with weeds. Willowdale and Zenda's fields have been given completely over to overgrowth. This summer for the first time in my 27 years of life, a softball tournament was not played in St. Leo. This trend has continued throughout my years of a lessening of real rural life and also rural faith. Too often in my later years the tournament went from a social occasion to an occasion of very real mortal sin with the indulgence of the flesh in various forms prevailing as the softball lights were dimmed. So with the loss of the tournament in St. Leo, I lose a bit of my heart and youthfulness. Our new farm is a mere 1/8 of  a mile from that big softball field. Seldom a day will pass without me driving past its mowed outfield. I suppose this is an ode to softball fields and to life because it is a lack of respect for life that has caused the overgrowth to win the day on those old playing fields. Contraception has been embraced even by most Catholics as a "godsend." There are few children to be raised up out in these rural places today. Many have been lured to the cities by its bright lights and promises of earthly delight. I was on the last Tee Ball team to play for the St. Leo Cardinals. After my time, there were no longer enough families with children to put together a team. I was in St. Leo school in 6th grade when the priest announced that the school would be closing its doors permanently. I have experienced in my own being many small deaths of rural life in my short span of years. I hope that someday it may return in some way. Maybe this is an ode, or maybe it is a prayer. My Jesus, Mercy!

Pax Christi,

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Justice, and all these things will be given you besides."


Yeoman said...

Very interesting essay.

I think there's a lot of things at work here, some of which you very appropriately note.

One additional thing I would note is that electronics seem to be turning the entire nation into a group of solo couch potatoes. Ipods, Ipads, and the computer are items that the young now find they can't live without, and by extension, they are starting to live only through them. I suspect a lot of those formerly softball playing kids are now in their rooms, on their electronics, getting fat.

7kids6dice1gamerdad said...

This is a sad story indeed! With respect to electtronics, I can agree to a point. In my own family, we prefer the role-playing game. It is an activity in which most of the family can participate. This, we do instead of losing the kids to themselves while they dominate the game console. In our own area, softball is certainly available, however, we find that this is a far too structured activity that tends to satisfy the needs and wants of the parent instead the child. We prefer the more spontaneous and creativity gained from the interactions of the neighborhood kids. Unfortunately, there no children in my neighborhood with whom I would feel safe having my children around and/or influenced by.

nicole jackson said...

I actually enjoy Softball. That's why I always make it a point to check on the baseball field maintenance for the players's safety too.