Friday, January 28, 2011

Sermon on the Mound

She scans the small crowd like a pitcher sizing up the next batter at the plate. What are they looking for? Right now she has them in the palm of her hand, expectant. What will she throw at them today? She knows she only has a few minutes. If she is wild she will lose them. Soon, they will be looking out the window or making faces at the baby in the chair in front of them, or responding to a text or checking out the scores on an iphone. She does not want to lose them. Yet, even with all the times she has stood on this mound she knows she has control problems. Some times she winds up throwing a curve when she really wanted a fastball right down the center of the plate. You see, unlike a pitcher she wants the batter to get a solid hit, right out of the park. She wants them to see the ball just as clearly as she does as she delivers it. She does not want to lose this one and give up a walk. It seems to her like she has done that all too often. They move on and she really has no clue how she lost them. Was she too academic? Or, did she rely on a Biblical memory which was not there? Or, did she choose stories and examples that did not connect? She knows the first few minutes are critical. Soon and very soon, she will know whether or not this pitch was in the zone or not. If it was not, there is not much she can do to regain the momentum. She has to finish the game. There is no one warming up in the bullpen. No relief in sight. She prays silently for someone to save this outing. It can be a struggle just to finish. The only good thing sometimes is that she can say it is over. It is always hard to leave behind though. Her mind plays with the pitches she threw, over and over. What could she have done differently she wonders? How did the new batter, the one she has never faced before, what did he think of her offerings? Will she see him again and have another chance? It's a mental thing and it's hard to turn her mind off when it is all over. But, there is another game next week. Fortunately, she can't dwell on this one too long; she has to get ready for her next start. Although she has been doing this a long time, the next one always feels brand new like it's her first. She is excited for another chance. Those first few minutes hold such promise, such expectation. It's a thrill. For now, she wonders, will she have that control, will they like her offerings; maybe she will be pitch perfect (or close) and they will hit it out of the park. All she can do is wait and see, and pray for the conditions to be right. Just Right.